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  Listen Up! 1/3/03 Listen Up!

Friday, Jan. 3

The Sights, “Got What We Want,” Fall of Rome Records. These kids started out as 60s garage revivalists, started listening to the more expansive late 60s records by the likes of Love or Traffic, then combined the energy of the mid-60s with the complex ideas of the late 60s and their in-born songwriting talent. The result is an album of majesty, power, and supreme catchiness.

Various Artists, “Looking For a Thrill,” Thrill Jockey Records. This is a sampler CD of recent and upcoming releases on the Thrill Jockey label. I’m not sure it’s actually going to be released for sale, but it doesn’t really have to be. All these artists have been doing this sort of thing for a while now. The thing about experimental music is that it’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of making it, and hard to wind up with anything that communicates that thrill to the listener. So, yeah, I could put my sober face on and stroke my chin while nodding my head to the Sea and Cake or Radian or Tortoise or any of these guys (except the occasional alt-country fiasco), but I’d be faking it. I’ve heard electronic experimental music that actually hummed with the electricity of human thought. This stuff is just playing around with machines. Every once in a while, you’ll hear something that shows these people can actually play a little bit, but they get too bored with using their skills. They’d rather bore us.

Various Artists, “Crucial Chicago Blues,” Alligator Records. Once upon a time, I grew bored with the Alligator label, thinking their house sound had grown too repetitive, too dull to allow for the invention at the heart of the best blues. Now, I realize most of the cuts collected on this compilation are taken from the first ten or so years of the label’s history, when that house sound was being forged, not cemented, but it sure does sound fresh and exhilarating to hear it today. I was lifted up by a variety of different voices and especially guitars. A terrific compilation, this.

“Kalaimamani” Kadri Gopalnath, “Gem Tones: Saxophone Supeme, South Indian Style,” Globestyle Recording. Indian ragas (or whatever classical style these are; I’m certainly no expert) performed with a saxophone added to the mix. It’s gorgeous, thrilling, transcendent.

Rockgodsuperstar, “The Dirty Pictures E.P.,”MLM Recordings. Oh, what Marilyn Manson unleashed on the world. While Manson had a genuine love of 70s goth-rock showbiz, his admirers and imitators just turn the whole thing into schlock. It doesn’t scare, it doesn’t rock, it doesn’t sound good in any way.

--Steve Pick



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