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Fast reviews of recent releases

Devo 2.0, Devo 2.0 (Walt Disney Records). Cutesy youngsters Nicole, Nathan, Jackie, Michael and Kane "play" allegedly kid-friendly versions of Devo faves on Devo 2.0; for example, "Uncontrollable Urge" is now about snack cravings. So why is the de-satirized "Beautiful World" more twisted than ever? And how did Mark Mothersbaugh convince Disney to pay for this bizarre artifact? Dunno -- but betcha your tot would look adorable in an energy dome. -- Roberts

The New Amsterdams, Story Like a Scar (Vagrant). Yes, the New Amsterdams are from Kansas. Yes, their new disc is a 29-minute metaphor for a wheat field. But ex-Get Up Kid Matt Pryor has more going for him than heartland-on-sleeve sincerity. This album is the best he's ever written, cultivated with an earthy grace that hints at the Shins and Van Morrison as much as it does Wilco and John Mellencamp. -- Heller

The Essex Green, Cannibal Sea (Merge). While the honorary Elephant 6-ers in Essex Green undoubtedly realize that vintage pop can be silly at times, they can't stop loving it anyway. Sea is a typically affectionate bit of musical cannibalism, replete with bouncy melodies, jangly arrangements and tuneful vocals by Chris Ziter and Sasha Bell. It's precious, in both meanings of the word. ­ Roberts

Pink Mountaintops, Axis of Evol (Jagjaguwar). Stephen McBean's Pink Mountaintops has always co-existed peacefully with his main project, Black Mountain. But the line between the two has never been fuzzier. Axis of Evol sounds exactly like a bunch of scruffy, basement-taped BM demos. In other words, bleak, pungent, sick, sad rock smoldering in a skull-shaped chalice. -- Heller

David Rodriguez, Proud Heart (Recovery Records). Recorded in Holland in 1995 and just released, Proud Heart is Austin with a European accent. There is a Butch Hancock aura about David Rodriguez's hard-traveling knowledge and salty, wise observation. That Proud Heart also stands the test of a ten-year incubation period testifies to the unique quality of Rodriguez's literary vision and timeless voice. -- William Michael Smith

Ursula 1000, Here Comes Tomorrow(ESL Music). On his latest full-length, Alex Gimeno does musical wheelies with a dance mix of original material inspired by glam rock, reggae, Prince, jazz scatting and a globe-trotting array of world musical styles. The sheer breadth and versatility of the compilation, along with a discerning collection of collaborators, make Tomorrow a perfect party cocktail that respects no boundaries and exists only in faithful service to the power of the greater groove. -- Terry Sawyer

 
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