Playlist

Ol' Dirty Bastard, Richmond Fontaine, Basement Jaxx, Barbra Streisand

Like many of their rave-era compatriots who are getting some radio-play, Basement Jaxx are equipped with rock-and-roll minds in a house-music time. Though they obviously love the sound and feel of pure stream-of-rhythm, they know how to put together those elements so beloved by anyone who grew up listening to pop music, rather than succumbing to the anonymity that is house's hallmark. Like great rock and roll, funk, punk, disco, rap and a dozen other pop genres before it, Basement Jaxx's house music takes catchy (albeit minimal) melodies, rhythms you can't help but move to if you've got ears and an ass. Add a fair helping of noise to ward off those who don't quite know how to have fun with it, and you've got a record that is solid all the way through. The wonderfully irritating synths of "Don't Give Up," the rising, patois-heavy vocals over the record's choppiest beats on "Jump N' Shout," and the stuttered, distorted refrain of "Yo-Yo," (in contrast to the fuller, radio-friendly vocal lines of "Red Alert") make these cuts hold up best. Principal songwriters Ratcliffe and Buxton, though, have ensured that every track, interludes excepted, have something that sticks in the mind, from the Selecter sample that hooks "Same Old Show" to the Latinized horns, piano and percussion of "Bingo Bango." As is usual in the genre, the lyrics here center around dancing, love, hedonism and other less interesting stuff, but if you're tuning in to house music for the lyrics rather than the pure audio and physical sensations, you still haven't figured out what it's about. This is music for dancing -- disco for a new time. And the best disco out now, Remedy included, will hold up as well as a great Gamble & Huff song in the long run. -- Patrick Brown

Barbra Streisand
A Love Like Ours
(Columbia)

If Babs wants to let James Brolin diddle her, that's fine by me: A happy Barbra means the world is a safer place. But sitting through over 51 minutes' worth of noxious songs dedicated to a guy whose crowning cinematic moment was portraying Pee-wee Herman in the film-within-a-film of Pee-wee's Big Adventure was among the most torturous experiences of my life. Spending several years on a chain gang would probably be worse, but only just.

Where to start? The overly generous collection of photos showing Jimmy and Our Girl positively gloating about their perfect match? The way Streisand manages to turn the deft " Isn't it a Pity?," from the pens of George and Ira Gershwin, into a slow slog through a molasses river? " The Island," a tune so goopy that even guest saxophonist Kenny G doesn't deserve it? " If You Ever Leave Me," in which poor Vince Gill is forced to serve as Brolin's surrogate? Or how about "Just One Lifetime," which seems to last for several?

Then again, maybe this album is worth owning after all: When these two get the inevitable Hollywood divorce, A Love Like Ours will be even funnier than it already is. -- Roberts Filter
Title of Record
(Reprise Records)

Richard Patrick, a former member of Nine Inch Nails' touring band, did well with his first full-length, Short Bus, a couple of years ago, but he's done little -- good or bad -- to break from the shadow of Trent Reznor. Until now. On his new release, he completely ignores his musical past and badly stumbles across the industrial low ground already trampled to death by the likes of Orgy and Gravity Kills. While disregarding thought-provoking lyrics and intelligent music, Patrick creates a woefully safe industrial record, seemingly intended for the backward-baseball-cap-wearing youth of America as much as the neo-goth types he purports to represent. Impending doom should have been recognized the moment the prerequisite "Band-all-dressed-in-black-looking-industrial" picture was spotted in the inlay.

Things start out tolerably with the crunchy "Welcome To The Fold [300K aiff]," until the chorus enters a minute or so later: "You just gotta sit yourself down to contemplate/You get yourself a nice cold beer and drink yourself away." Though the marriage of drinking to excess and rock became passé when Bon Scott choked on his own vomit, when Patrick breaks out his industrial music cookie cutter, no rock cliche is left untouched. Things only get worse as each of the first three songs follows an entirely predictable continuum of rhythm-guitar-into-drum-beat followed by spoken-lyrics-to-a-big-rock-riff and Patrick's screaming yowl. By the time the opening bass line to the very Garbage-esque "The Best Things [292K aiff]" rumbles through, one will inevitably pine for the days of "Hey Man, Nice Shot."

Smacking of misplaced self-importance throughout, the last half of this release puts the finishing touches on a horrific car wreck of a recording as Patrick oscillates between two main principals. The first is bad-Eighties-hair-band power ballads complete with acoustic guitars and self-pitying juvenile singsong lyrics such as "Do you think I should watch you die/Should we close our eyes and say goodbye," from " Miss Blue [298K aiff]." The second is the now-common "Soft, Loud, Soft, Loud" approach popularized by bands such as the Smashing Pumpkins in the early to mid-Nineties. By the end of this ordeal, it appears Title of Record might have been more appropriately named Blueprint for Failure, as this sonic suppository functions best as an example of how not to make a record. -- Sean McDonald

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