Fast Trax



various artists
Hot Rods & Custom Classics

This smart, leisurely cruise through rock 'n' roll's longtime automotive fixation might have been more varied (where's hip hop, the most car-obsessed genre since the Beach Boys?). But these four irresistible discs sport some of Rhino's most tongue-in-cheek programming ever. You'll find clusters of devil songs, songs about Fords, songs about Cadillacs, and, best of all, songs about car crashes--capped, appropriately enough, by a recording of James Dean assuring a Texas audience that he never, ever drag races on the highway. (Michaelangelo Matos)


Old 97s
Fight Songs

Rhett Miller's cagey quaver and quoted Carver suggest that his belief in love's transience has less to do with any observable truths than with his literary sensibility and a refusal to sign a full year's emotional lease. His idea of commitment is to declare himself "in definitely...indefinitely." His life's mission is to convince the world that guys who get laid every weekend suffer broken hearts, too--or vice versa. Ken Bethea's rootsy guitar comments wryly on the action without implicating itself in the anhedonia. (Keith Harris)


Os Mutantes
The Best of Best Os Mutantes
Luaka Bop

With more goofy bursts of exuberance than Sesame Street and more bongo fits than War or Charles Wright, these Brazilian John Cage wannabes were traveling at world-musical light speed in the late Sixties and early Seventies. Compiled by David Byrne, this lauded reissue of psychedelic samba still makes today's sample-rockers sound club-footed. Had Jefferson Airplane been this funky, the revolution would have been over in minutes. (Scholtes)


Carole King
Really Rosie

While both piano rock and Schoolhouse Rock are wearing out their hipster welcome, there's much more than Xer nostalgia to recommend this reissued TV cartoon-special soundtrack from 1975, with lyrics by Maurice Sendak and music by singer-songwriter Carole King. Adults may remember only the album's weakest cut, "Chicken Soup With Rice," but the rest has more proto-riot-grrrl sass than anything King came up with solo. Despite the singer's muted vibrato, her addictive chord changes and conversational phrasing remain a tribute to some soulful craft. (Scholtes)


Dave Hollister
Ghetto Hymns

This state-of-the-slow-jam vocal showboat for Blackstreet veteran Hollister joins an admirable R&B tradition of shoehorning hip hop's vocal cadence and for-the-streets subject matter into churchy black pop. Under the production guidance of Erick Sermon (EPMD) and his Def Squad, this version manages to sound new without lacing up the Timbaland beats. Even the bedroom syrup sticks. (Scholtes)


To Rococo Rot
The Amateur View

The third, fascinating album from Berlin's To Rococo Rot is chillier and more metronomic than the first two. Too bad, since what sets this palindromic duo above the electronic rabble is a human pulse beat--live bass and drums--and a subtle sense of development that's every bit as narrative as vocalized lyrics. All those are still here, too, but they're attenuated like a dying language. Still, the melodies cling like Velcro, and the haunting mood, once caught, lingers. (Sally Jacob)

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