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Random Stabbings 13a

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Gnarls Barkley “St. Elsewhere” (Downtown/Atlantic Records)
Cautious consumers shouldn’t expect Dungeon Family-era Cee-Lo here (as if that ship hadn’t sailed a while ago), or any largely comparable effort for that matter; this team-up with Brian Burton’s Danger Mouse character may indeed not be liked at all by even the lowliest mall-gangsta who typically finds hirself hypnotized by loosely related product like Gorillaz. And so on, but forget that. The new jack Motown compiled by the pair is sure to be tagged as an overstimulated revision of Marvin Gaye, but what’s most obvious is how Black Eyed Peas the tuneage is (see the remake of Violent Femmes’ “Gone Daddy Gone”) and how much time it spends lifting its ear up for a scratch from indie snobs (“The Boogie Monster), neither of which is a capital offense, but only a major label would scribble “ALT” on its forehead in such a garish font. Among other oddities you’ll encounter a Nintendo-meets-Fat-Albert novelty item (“Transformer”) and an Urge Overkill spasm interrupted with random occurrences of scorched-earth breakbeat (“Just a Taught”). Unerringly cool despite Paris Hilton sticking her stupid fat nose into it and threatening to do a cover of “Crazy.”

Zombi “Surface to Air” (Relapse Records)
An odd care package hit the office earlier this year from Relapse, containing not the expected metalpalooza thrash headliner but instead a clutch of instrumentalists which included Don Caballaro. Unlike the more famous Caballaro, Zombi is more lo-fi and less prog, remindful of Kraftwerk in their prime and fixating on subdural will o’ the wispiness, for example beating the riff to Van Halen’s “Jump” with great tunnel vision until it sort of sags like a resigned mule (“Challenger”). Order from Amazon.com


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Jenny Davis “It Amazes Me” (self-released)
Like June Christy, jazz chanteuse Davis comes off relaxed and smoldering while reciting these standards, and her band (sax, piano, guitar and upright bass in the main) lends her second album (in follow-up to 2000’s Daydream) the subtle friendliness of a coffee table book. The record kicks off with “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing,” providing instant chill; “Dindi” rolls out the New Age carpet for Davis to lay down upon and nick a vacation-minded Ricki Lee Jones. Order from Amazon.com

Ahab Rex “The Queen of Softcore” (Lens Records)
EP containing five versions of an indie-dance droner that resembles a meth-ed out Rico Suave ruminating over his pet bimbo while a pet bimbo utters doo-wahs in the background, all this to mid-BPM prattling that’s non-fuzzed Queens of the Stone Age-vs-jazz chords 101. The takes range from Massive Attack bink-bink techno to long-dead 90s indie, the best of which is Countdown’s swooshing Kraut-EBM stab at it.  Order from Amazon.com

Gram Rabbit “Cultivation” (Stinky Records)
Seriously too groovy and timely for US indie radio, Gram Rabbit tries a lot of different styles on for size – straightjacket shoegaze bliss to post-Kashmir grunge ringouts – and instead of the usual tuneless muck that spells alt for lack of a more honest pigeonhole, it’s this hypnotic, earthshakingly cool cross between Enigma, Madonna, Jesus & Mary Chain and anything else that’s been heard on radio in the past fifty years capable of filling out a bunny suit (download hotXXX belly-shirt jpgs of Jesika von Rabbit before there are fees). Handshake track “Waiting in the Country” fuses Warlocks-like slam-chording to Jesika’s icy (and refreshingly on-key) full-reverb warning about things unknown, and before you know it our gal is gakking out a pre-fame Cyndi Lauper hairball over some Pac Man disco (Bloody Bonnies”). So now, two decent songs have gone by and you think you’ve got it pegged, but the saloon doors open for “Angel Song” to come sauntering in with one of those Telstar guitars from out of Quentin Tarantino’s weird record collection, an acoustic piano tinkling mournfully by its side, and the vocals are taken over by Todd Rutherford emulating the Byrds, and that’s when you decide on a permanent home for the CD somewhere in the car no matter how weird things get (and boy, do they ever). Order from Amazon.com


Outraged ranting, indie label release news and spaghetti sauce recipes are always welcome.  Email ericsaeger@mindspring.com

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