Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale (DO 0...


Frank Miller's recasting Batman as the Dark Knight and Tim Burton's subseguent warped film noirs opened the floodgates for creative activity around DC's superhero. So what's left to do with Batman? Nothing new which :s something Eisner award- winriiitg tea'n Loel) and Sale make a virtue of. Their iengt'it, murder 'iiysten'. in x-Jliich promziéent members of Goti‘am Crty's police force are SI'lll“ ' up one

by one by a serial k;iier

knots/n as The Hangn‘ait.

cieveriy casts as its

suspects Batmai‘s entre-

psycltotic rogues gallery.

from Two face to T“e

Joker. l dens pie. wer-

paceo over t'iirteer‘. episodes (1"(3 Sa-e s ai'. n l.’l a cmeinat c

Miles l-eder



Ted Steam (FéifliiltjféijflllCSi 00..

Tales of greed. slavery and the human condition all told Via the adventures of a discarded teddy bear (Fu//l and a bald rooster (Plucki. Our heroes Wind a perilous journey through a surreal America. being sul‘)jected to hardships from every angle in their

search for the easy life. Stearn has invested more humanity in his two diminutive title characters than you find in the average troubled superhero. and a soft cartoon style adds to the appeal and makes

for an instantly accessible read. But this ain't no schinaltzy kids tale. it's a rich allegory told in the easy-going manner of a southern fried fable.

(Henry Nortliinorel


MEAT CAKE Dame Darcy iFantagraj)hicsi CO

i'l/i'eat Cake is the product of an unhinged ir‘iifd. ts All‘tfl'lCt’ill author. Dame Darcy. is pictured on the back of her thrice yearly publication wearing a pinafore dress and clinging to a patchwork guilt. Think little House On The Priory'. where a girl woman dreams of a ‘.'./orld where mermaids. ‘.'.’li(lil(}53 and 'wasp won‘en' run not. In this world. women wear the

pants. or rather ride the broomsticks in a series of surreal stones that portray men as either subservient sex toys or violent psychopaths. Feminist overtones and gothic leanings are rife and although moments are pure oddball. most of this smacks of something certifiably sinister.

(Catherine Bromley)

PORTRAITURE LONG TIME RELATIONSHIP Julie Doucet (Dawn & Quarterly) 00..

The first two sections of this handsomely produced sketchbook— cum-portfolio is a rogues gallery of men and women 'of our times'. grotesque and occasionally strangely beautiful caricatures (though Doucet's detail transcends stereotyping). Next. are two series of colour drawings. the first annotated in German as part of the artist's effort to learn the language. the second inspired by lonely hearts ads. giVing the book its title. There are also selections from Doucet's self-published comic Sop/lie Punt. and finally a series of lino-cut prints based on family photos found in a bin in Berlin. All of which is exemplifies Doucet's warped. sexually- charged humour. leading to the tag ‘female R. Crumb". Quite accurate and entirely complimentary.

(Miles Fielderi

Long Time Relationship



NO DOUBT Rock Steady (Interscope) 00

Behold. as Gwen Stefani goes R&B. But without fiery rapping skills of collaborator Eve to hand. she doesn't fare so well. Rock Steady is the SOund of a band looking for inspiration and coming out with a mismatched mix of loony tunes. ‘Making Out' is a vacuous electro-ode to snogging. while the cod-reggae of ‘Underneath It All“ makes UBAO look good. The bagpipes and beats inelange of "Start The Fire' meanwhile is just plain embarrassing.

Submerged deep Within the passionless over-production are perfectly passable songs fighting to break out of computer game soundtrack shackles. But they rarely manage to succeed. Rock Steady may push some of the right buttons but it completely fails to ignite. (Camilla Pia)

ROCK 'N' ROLL CHUCK E. WEISS Old Souls And Wolf Tickets (Rykodisc.

Slow River) .0.

Weiss is an LA

singer. songwriter legend. He's been pals With Tom Waits since they met in a Denver coffee house in 1972. founded the Viper Room with Johnny Depp and is the subject of Rickie Lee Jones' immortal song ‘Chuck E.'s In Love'. This follow-up to 1999's E-‘xtreme/y Cool. which reintroduced Weiss to the world outside LA's underground music scene. is a bad ass mess o' bragging. 'My baby's got no clothes 'cause she's cooking chicken soup'. sings Weiss (sounding like a cross between Waits and John Hiatt) on opener. ‘Congo Square At Midnight'. On the thirteen other tracks he cooks up swamp blues.

noir jazz and misbegotten spirituals. And Weiss' jungle boogie duet with Willie Dixon is a 1970 vintage gem. (Miles Fielder)


KID ROCK Cocky (Lava/Atlantic) 000.

Kid Rock. he's going out with that Pamela Anderson. don't ya know? And what a couple they make: he' surely the filthiest rap- rocker around and Pammy, well. she's just Pammy. Kicking off with the roaring ‘Trucker Anthem'. this is a curiously old-fashioned album packed with white trash rock and down—on-the-farm rap. Southern fried duet. with ex-girlfriend Sheryl Crow. ‘Picture' is strangely touching. sentimental countrified blues. something you never expected on a Kid Rock record. Is this really the same album that contains the laugh- out-loud 'WCSR' (featuring Snoop Dogg). a track so vulgar most ciVilised countries would ban it? The title says it all. (Henry Northmorel


Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (Virgin) O.

Now I like a toke on a wonky fag as much as the next Cheech. but muSic made under the influence of reefer madness is rarely a succinct and focused listen. And so it is with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. whose debut album is a self-indulgent and turgid piece of spacey goth drudgery. like The Verve in a “far out' jam with The Mission. Just picture that for a hideOus second.

Everywhere yOLir ears turn there are guitars and vocals drenched in


reverb. repetitive riffs and supposedly life- affirming anthemic lyrics which are really just a big old bongful of banality. (DOug Johnstone)


A Sin Of Adult Swimming (888) O...

Cayto are the latest in a long and occasionally glorious line of Scottish post-rock upstarts and this debut is a damn fine one. drawing on the likes of The Cure. Mogwai. My Bloody Valentine and even (occaSionallyi Ben Folds Five.

The five-piece allegedly spend their free time “defacing capitalist burger chains' (one wonders if there are any other kind) but they'd be better off concentrating on producing more bewitching melodies like these. Cayto are just as happy rocking out and shouting. of course. but it's when they turn down and tune up that they really shine. Enchanting stuff. iJaines Smart)


CHRIS ROGERS Dragons And Seahorses (Seadragonl 000

Chris Rogers is something of an oddin Whether you hate his combination of social commentaries over slide guitar on 'Troublemaker' or love the magical tale of a reluctant vampire on 'Vampire's Prayer'. this release is sure to make an impact.

At best Dragons And Sea/rorses is a folky affair filled With sweet melodies and understated charm, but the occasional forays into 808 echo effects and guitar chimes tend to distract from the album's altogether low- key atmosphere. This is far from a best seller or a head-turning debut but at times it is an endearing and intriguing release that somehow works just fine.

(Camilla Pial

"ea." THE LIST 85