HIP HOP COMMON Electric Circus (MCA) coco

As far as living up to his name. Lonnie Lynn aka Common doesn‘t do a very good job. producing as he has. a singularly innovative and texturally varied hip hop album where the obligaIOry guests (the Neptunes. Mary J Blige. Jill Scott. and incredibly enough Stereolab's Laetitia Sadier) don‘t outshine the star.

In collaboration with former A Tribe Called Quest man ?uestlove. Common snaps up the brittle bones of contemporary rap and pokes them through the musical wire fence. and in doing so invokes the spirit of Prince. KRS-f and Roni Size while aping none of them. Uncommonly good. (Mark Robertson)


Sharks & Flames (Homesleep) 00000

skirt.» ‘65 l iii»

If the response of the British music press to the latest Flaming Lips album and the Polyphonic Spree's debut is anything to go by. Philadelphian five- piece Lenola are destined to be huge. Like the aforementioned bands. they’ve succeeded in harnessing a British-born proggy pop aesthetic. reminiscent of late Beatles and Pink Floyd. to an endearingly surreal sense of quirky Americana (see also Mercury Rev and Grandaddy). The re8ult is 20 (yes. 20 - it's a two— CD album) songs of shimmering. ethereal pop beauty and an album that's nothing short of genius. (Catherine Bromley)


Just when you thought garage rock couldn't get any scuzzier. here's Sludgeteast with ‘Born Evil“ (Must Destroy 0”. ), like Mudhoney passed through an ectoplasm filter and undoubtedly on Beelzebub's hitlist in hell. From the opposite end of rock come InMe. whose “Crushed Like Fruit‘ (Music for Nations

.0 ) is turgid corporate indie metal with nary even a whiff of adrenaline in its bloodless veins. More lightweight and even less interesting is JJ72“s ‘Always and Forever’ (Lakota O ). which is indie folky rocky blandy squawky crappy pompousy wanky wank. So there.

What we need is some ear-soothing, Buckley-esque croonage. Just as well Martin Grech is here with ‘Push‘ (Detox «O ) a kind of one-man acoustic Coldplay on downers. Grech seems to have nicked all Erland Oye's angst. cos the King of Convenience's ‘Sudden Rush“ (Source 00 ) is a fret-free snatch of low momentum disco pop. like the Pet Shop Boys but without the jokes.

Pop. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, if Darren Hayes and Rosie Ribbons are anything to go by. Hayes“ ‘Crush’ (Columbia 0 ) is hilariously po-faced retro Europop bilge. while failed Pop Idol Ribbons‘ “A Little Bit‘ (T2 00 ) aims for R&B cool, but sounds like a bad version of Liberty X.

After which drivel, it's a delight to hear Edinburgh duo Swimmer One. Like Boards of Canada sucking on smoothies with New Order. “We Just Make Music for Ourselves‘ (Biophonic «O. ) is a gentle. blissed out piece of wonderfully intelligent beats and bleeps. with killer melodies to boot. ‘Automatic Eyes‘ (Mute «O ) by Echoboy shares the New Order influence. but is a rougher and less effective romp of chanting. banging and wandering bass lines.

The Bandits“ ‘Once Upon a Time“ (B-Unique O. ) is straight out of fellow Scouse nippers the Coral's book of silly, idiotic sea- shanty-played-by-cowboys book of songwriting, and really very irritating indeed. Equally as weird but a hundred times better are The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster. “Psychosis Safari' (No Death “00 ) is a Damned-up maniac romp of twisted guitars and truly insane vocal gibberings. Excellent stuff.

Just so you know, Fionn Regan is a man. And a fucking talented one. on the evidence of Single of the Fortnight. the Reservoir EP (Anvil mo ). The word ‘edgy‘ can rarely be applied to acoustic country folk. but it does here. The four tracks encompass twangy hillbilly instability. some wonderfully fraught Elliott Smithery and a wedge of good old angsty acoustic rock, all with the lrishman‘s often frazzled but always mesmerising voice to the fore. (Doug Johnstone)

it was the Bounty

BOUNTY Hunters that caused HUNTER arguments aplenty. (Activision €39.99) Everyone wanted to be

0 Boba Fett.

Twenty-odd years later that dream becomes a reality and unfortunately soon becomes a nightmare. There was no poor camera. poor level design. poor weaponry. clumsy control. dull graphics and empty enjoyment in those schoolyards. On the console however this is exactly what you get. robbing the coolest characters in the Star Wars universe of all that made them great. BOt/nty Hunter is a travesty. ignoring both its celluloid history and all acceptable gaming

Those of a certain age will remember the Original Star Wars movie releases and their effect on school playgrounds. Tig. bulldog and even football were ditched in favour of re-enacting those now-legendary cinematic action sequences and when

characters were chosen standards. GAMECUBE


(Nintendo £39.99) .000

There is a natural balance in every game. Good points versus bad points, niggles versus joys, annoyance versus invention. If the scales tip the wrong way nothing can get you to that swap shelf fast enough. Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem may swing wildly from innovative genius to just plain dumb but the final result rests far in to the ‘keeper’ column.

The story is complicated, but breaks down to a young woman, Alex, investigating the death of her creepy, occult loving relative. Now here is the first clever bit. Her research uncovers an untold evil that has plagued humanity for centuries. This story is told in chapters, each involving a playable character from history. Complete the chapter and you return to the family home, equipped with a new skill that Alex can use to unlock the next chapter. Though the exploration and combat elements essentially stay the same and are terribly linear, the switch from century to century is very rewarding and drives you onto the next one. And the next one.

Soon enough ‘magick’ becomes available to allow each character to mix and match runes to create new spells. Though a tad restrictive, this system is again very addictive, compelling you to find the next rune for the next spell. But the pinnacle is the ‘sanity meter“. As it empties with every shambling demon faced, so the world changes, ranging from a slight tilt in the camera to sinking into the floor, walking on the ceiling and literally falling to pieces.

So with enough imagination and good storytelling to overcome any programming clumsiness, Sanity’s Requiem is, on balance, definitely one for the collection. (Iain Davidson)


PS2 THE GETAWAY (Sony £39.99) 000

With a reputed budget of more than E3m and a development time c0unted in years rather than months. The Getaway had a lot to live up to. And in certain respects it surpasses all expectations. The London setting for what is essentially a DflVOf‘ style mission-based drive'n'shoot game is

, absolutely beautiful. The

detail is astonishing and sets a new benchmark for photo-realistic gannng.

But in all other areas The Getaway disappoints. The missions are puerile. morally dubious. if not downright offensive. and shockingly one-paced. Driving is moderately good fun. but as soon as yOLi step from a vehicle. control becomes pitiful. reducmg the story elements to interruptions to yOur driving.


BIG MUTHA TRUCKERS (Empire £39.99 000

This should have been Elite for those who c0unt Eddie Stobart lorries on the motorway. Buying and selling goods. transpOrting them in yOur ever-evolving truck along the long and lonely highways. ever on the lookOut for a bargain and that artery- hardening all day breakfast.

But. the reality is less than hoped for. The trucks. though initially enjoyable to drive. are understandably slow and Cumbersome and never really tax those players brought up on racing games.

(lain Davidson)

16—30 Jan 200:; THE LIST 93