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Disclosure time: Sanford Kellogg of the Ism works as a salesman at Westword and stops by my office so often that it's become something of a running gag. So rather than actually reviewing the group's latest project, Sleep, allow me to state that tracks like "7:30" and "Molly" are quieter and more melodic than the group's previous synth-pop offerings, while "Disco Queen" and "Long and Winding Road" are virtually identical to them. That should get you up to speed (Sanford Kellogg, 296-7744). It's a compliment to say that Superstars of the Cricket on the Hill, a compilation devoted to what the CD jacket describes as "Denver's favorite club," is a lot like visiting the joint; just when you're ready to walk out the door, something pulls you back inside again. Given the presence of 22 songs by 22 acts, it's only natural that some items are better than others, but what's surprising is how much of what's on hand is thoroughly entertaining. My favorites were the Throttlemen's "Cowtown," Fox Force 5's "Tri-State Teen Love Spree," MK Ultra's "Lonely," Ruby Hue's "Nullified" and "House of Spooky Love," by the late Jeff Dahl ("Dahl Parts," January 31, 1996). But that's just me (Sixpence/Hip-O Records, 1406 East 14th Avenue, 2nd Floor, Denver 80218).

If you had your interest piqued about 360 Twist! signee Frigg A-Go-Go by "Everything Around Me"/"Pre-Teen Love," a seven-inch reviewed in our October 30 issue, you'll probably enjoy The Penetrating Sounds of...Frigg A-Go-Go, a full-length CD spotlighting the Lafayette, Louisiana, combo. The single's A-side is here, supplemented by twelve other rockers epitomized by grinding guitars, purring organ and snot-nosed vocals. "I Don't Wanna Be Your Man," "Swivel Hips" and "Explosion" are so garagey that you can practically smell the fumes. Yummy (360 Twist! Records, P.O. Box 9367, Denver 80209). Another out-of-towner inked to a Colorado imprint is Melissa Ferrick, a singer-songwriter who has moved from a major label to Boulder's W.A.R.? imprint. Her new CD, Melissa Ferrick + 1, is a compendium of live solo performances that showcase her passionate vocals and awfully familiar approach to modern folk music. "Let Me Go," "Massive Blur" and the rest find her solidly in the Lilith Fair camp, and because there's little to differentiate her from the other competitors in this increasingly crowded field, she may be facing a rough road ahead of her. Despite its attributes, like the feverish "Willing to Wait," I found the platter to be fairly generic--but then again, I haven't worn out any Sarah McLachlan albums lately (available in area record stores).

Come out, come out, wherever you are. On Thursday, December 4, the Velveteen Monster, a new side project of the Czars, appears with, um, the Czars at the Bluebird Theater; the Lovemongers, featuring Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, kneel at the Church, with Elaine Summers; Dee Carstensen headlines at the Boulder Theater; and Men or Monsters offer you a choice at Cricket on the Hill. On Friday, December 5, Human Rights are maintained at the Bluebird, with Majek Fashek, and Fred Eaglesmith supports his new Razor & Tie disc Lipstick Lies & Gasoline at the Swallow Hill Music Hall, with Eric Andersen (Eaglesmith also appears the following night at Nick's in Boulder). On Saturday, December 6, Little Fyodor searches for his sanity at the Lion's Lair, with the Marvel Kind; Persian vocalist Narges visits the Metro Denver Baha'i Center, 99 South Grant (call 470-1057 for details); Westword contributor John Jesitus takes on all comers at the Blue Satellite; and Electric Summer celebrates the release of its new EP (issued by Boulder's Soda Jerk imprint) at the Bluebird. On Monday, December 8, the Boulder Theater hosts the 10th Annual Holiday Cabaret, a benefit for the Boulder County AIDS Project. And on Wednesday, December 10, the Boulder Theater is the place to see Love Generator, Fat Mama, Wojo and DJ Vitamin D; and the Galactix, Chris Daniels, Bad Rufus and many others put on a show at Herman's Hideaway in honor of the late Herman Roth. Life springs eternal.

--Michael Roberts

Backbeat's e-mail address is: Michael_Roberts@westword.com. While you're online, visit Michael Roberts's Jukebox at www.westword.com

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