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  Listen Up! 6/27/02 Listen Up!

Thursday, June 27

Guided By Voices, ďUniversal Truths and Cycles,Ē Matador Records. Guided By Voices remain an enigma to me. Album after album, full of song after song (19 of them on this one), I keep hearing things to like, obvious pop influences from the 60s pantheon edges. Yet, the things to like rarely coalesce into songs to love. It may be Robert Pollardís voice, which is slightly raw without any real character. Itís certainly not the rhythm section these days, as this band rocks along amiably on classic grooves. It must be the songs themselves, which manage the rare trick of being inventive without being incandescent. I mean, you can hear the wheels turning, but you canít work up much reason to care. There are pleasures to be had on this new album, but not much to remember.

Bruce Esckovitz and Bill Mays, ďConversations,Ē Azica Records. Lovely, if less than substantial, duets from a tenor saxophonist and a pianist Iíve never heard before. Eskovitz has a buzzing tone, and an idling sense of swing. Mays accompanies him lightly, and dances on his solos. Itís not gonna be in the top 2 or 3 thousand jazz records ever made, but itís pleasant.

--Steve Pick



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