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  Listen Up! 12/10/03 Listen Up!

Wednesday, Dec. 10

Matmos, “The Civil War,” Matador Records. This is one of those records best left sitting in the background. Matmos uses about a million sound sources, some of them being traditional musical instruments, to create pleasant little tunes which bear some relationship to American folk music. You can’t dance to this, but it’s filed in the dance section. I’m not saying close listening won’t be rewarding at all, but it’s not really necessary.

Dinah Washington, “Dinah ’62,” Roulette Jazz. An excellent upbeat big-band record from Ms. Washington. I can’t swear there were no ballads on this, but I can’t remember any right now, just seconds after the CD ended. Washington sounds fine in this context, though, belting things out with confidence and exuberance. Her impeccable phrasing works perfectly.

Kid Rock, “Kid Rock,” Atlantic Records. It’s sad to see somebody so completely unaware of his strengths. Kid Rock was a brilliant rap/rock crossover artist – “Bawitaba” (or whatever is the real spelling of the song we all know what I’m talking about) was easily one of the finest singles of the 1990s, a heck of a lot more exciting than anything Nirvana ever did (how’s that for some fighting words?) – and he’s demonstrated a decent level of proficiency as a straight ahead country artist. But, what he wants to be now is a 70s country/rock and hard rock artist, which is a problem. He can’t sing as well as Paul Rodgers, which makes his cover of Bad Company’s “Feel Like Making Love” sound half-assed. He can’t even sing with the personality of that guy in Molly Hatchet, which combined with his preference for hiring friends to hiring great musicians, makes his country/rock original material sound a mite tame. I’m not ready to write the guy off completely, but this album seems less likely to stick with me than even the last one I already forgot about.

--Steve Pick

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