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  Listen Up! 9/9/03 Listen Up!

Tuesday, Sept. 9

Leona Naess, “Leona Naess,” MCA Records. Three albums in, and she’s run out of titles already, I guess. Oh well, it’s not like she’s sold many records yet, or even done much of anything besides get a few catchy songs added to the kinds of muzak you hear when you work out at the YMCA. Naess has a limited melodic vocabulary, favoring a few sing-song cadences that she puts into a variety of contexts. But, she does have a way of finding hooks that stick in your head. She doesn’t do it every time, but there are about four first-rate examples here on this new record, especially “Calling” and “Home.” Another example may attract more attention simply by virtue of having such a great and wordy title: “Don’t Use My Broken Heart to Pick Up Other Girls.” I think I would have put that on the cover of the album, if I had been in charge.

Kirk Whalum, “Into My Soul,” Warner Bros. Records. This sort of lite jazz actually pains me to listen to it. Namby-pamby soprano or tenor sax over “grooves” of insistent insipitude. What is the point of this? Whalum managed to give some money to David Porter, the guy who used to co-write with Isaac Hayes at Stax back in the 60s, by letting him produce this one. How he could listen without crying for mercy to the abomination that is “Hold On I’m Coming,” turned into the kind of music even the Ladies Man would be embarrassed to hear while drinking Corvosier, is beyond me.

Morcheeba, “Parts of the Process,” Reprise Records. If you watch bad TV drama, particularly the stuff aimed at teens, you’ll often find this mid-tempo, languid pop music, with tepid beats and colorless female vocals, playing in the background. Morcheeba, for all I know, is the band doing all of it for all the shows, but they could be. Every single one of the 18 (!?!) songs on this album sounds exactly alike, and they’ve been doing this shit for years. Any single one of these songs could cause you to raise your head for a few seconds in extremely mild appreciation, but you’d stop paying attention long before it’s over. But 18 of them in a row is a possible cause of Alzheimer’s Disease, and I think we should look into the relationship between Morcheeba fans in our time, and the nursing home rolls in about 25 to 40 years.

--Steve Pick

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