Author

Johnny Huston

Half a decade after bringing hip-house to the pop charts (”Pump Up the Jam”), this Belgian studio outfit is once again hammering cliches into your brain with machine-like precision. Generic vocals have been added to the mix, but the best cuts still feature the rapping of Ya Kid K, whose tomboy sass saves her from sounding like the aerobics instructor from hell.

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Like the Everly Brothers, the members of the Spanic family — Tom Spanic, his cousin Butch, and his son Ian — are roots-rock virtuosos. Unfortunately, their guitars sing better than they do, and their originals tend to be corny. Still, graceful melodies and a melancholy pedal-steel sound make Spanic Family Album worthwhile listening, even for those outside of the clan. B

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One decade and five albums after their noisy debut, brothers Jim and William Reid hearken back to the quiet acoustics of their second record, Darklands. Here, as usual, they distill rock into catchy power chords and kindergarten rhymes. One exception: ”Sometimes Always” pits Jim’s dirty drawl against that of Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, evoking the romantic duels of Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra. B+

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A cult figure for more than 40 years, Jimmy Scott is experiencing a fresh surge in popularity. His androgynous rasp has the starring role here on Dream, dipping and diving over muted flickers of piano and vibraphone. Avoiding the studied creepiness of his Twin Peaks collaboration with David Lynch, Scott saves his trademark wavering low notes for the grand finale of each number, while producer Mitchell Froom (American Music Club) maintains a jazzy, dinner-club atmosphere. B

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Best known for appearing on the flip side of a 7-inch single with Nirvana last year, the Jesus Lizard has gained a cult following thanks to lead singer David Yow’s rowdy, occasionally nude stage antics. Sans spectacle, the live recording Show is still ugly and proud of it. Over sweaty, white-boy-blues riffs, Yow alternately squeals like a stuck pig and hollers like a caveman with a throat full of phlegm. B-

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