Author

Gina Arnold

Former Guadalcanal Diary singer Murray Attaway’s solo debut abounds with literate lyrics rendered evocative by his graceful Southern twang. In Thrall’s pleasant jangle and strum and its songs’ subject matter — nostalgia for smalltown America — also call to mind some shadowy aspects of his Athens, Ga., hometown peers R.E.M. If only Attaway’s songwriting was as focused and funny as his work with GD. B-

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Quicksand is an octave-jumping, semihardcore band from New York City. Its singer, Walter Schreifels, has a fetching Kurt Cobain-like catch in his bellow that makes earnestly uttered Quicksand demands like ”Speak your mind!” sound desperately important on Slip. Quicksand is derivative, but at least its operative influences — Helmet and Fugazi — are highly agreeable ones. B

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Incorruptible and irresistible, Zücker is a blend of melodious girl-group vocals and furious three-chord punk rock that makes Seattle’s illustrious Fastbacks a possible candidate for the next big thing. Simultaneously sugarcoated (they do a Bee Gees cover) and speedy (only one song tops three minutes), this bi-gender rock band is close to perfect. A

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Flipper was the first band to meld punk rock with heavy metal, thus becoming the grandfather of grunge. Losing an essential band member (original guitarist Will Shatter died in ‘87) hasn’t kept Flipper from making this disappointing comeback LP, American Grafishy, which is a straight-ahead exercise in loud, sludgy rhythms and cynically gleeful, by-the-book nihilism. C

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Perhaps because one half of Pavement lives in New York City and the other in a sleepy, rural, central California town called Stockton, the spirit of the band’s music is split right down the middle. Simultaneously sophisticated and unpretentious, heartfelt and totally goofy — but always entirely sincere — Pavement exhibits its genius casually. The group’s first full-length album, Slanted and Enchanted, is brimming with beautiful pop songs, soured a bit by the rhythmic clamor of harder guitar rock.

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The Allman Brothers’ 1971 LP, At Fillmore East, is the definitive concert album of an entire era. An Evening With, their first official live album in 16 years, documents a portion of their 1991-92 tour and showcases new takes on several beloved oldies: ”Melissa,” ”Dreams,” ”Revival,” ”Southbound,” and ”Blue Sky.” These versions do demonstrate the band’s lengthy, free-flowing guitar noodling, but thanks to studio trickery and the melding of eight shows into one, it sure doesn’t sound very live.

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Roses are red, violets are blue. Bricks are heavy, and L7 is too. Produced by Butch Vig of Nirvana fame, L7’s sound is similar to that band’s oeuvre: catchy tunes and mean vocals on top of ugly guitars and a quick-but-thick bottom of cast-iron grunge. Where L7 differs from Nirvana, however, is in the clarity of its angry lyrics. There are no ”Oh well, whatever, neverminds” on Bricks Are Heavy.

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David Lowery’s old band, the super-eclectic Camper Van Beethoven, was known for playing everything from Polish mazurkas to acid rock. His new band, Cracker, is a much simpler trio whose music harks back to groups like Little Feat, The Band, and the Exile-era Rolling Stones, though with a slightly sharper edge. On Cracker, songs like ”Happy Birthday to Me” and ”Satisfy You” are straightforward and incisive country-flavored rock numbers made piercingly relevant by Lowery’s mean harmonica and wry, cynical wit.

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