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Sacred Hoop

Miasmatic Recordings: Running through the sewer drains coursing below the Bay Area hip-hop scene is Sacred Hoop, whose second full-length album features paranoid-sounding hip-hop flushed with water-torture production. On Retired, the Palo Alto crew has obviously taken some self-defense courses from Joe Pesci ("Moron Abuse," "Molly") and added some artistic flourishes from Vrse Murphy, the inimitable DJ Quest and Eddie K. from Space Travelers. "Bathtub Gin," with its dippy beat and keyboard sample, would sound downright Dr. Seuss-y if it weren't for Luke Sick's bent-as-a-coat-hanger daydreams. All the recent improvements make Retired a more complete package for fans of the Hoop's hip-hop horror-core. (TSI)

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Anger & Depression

One day, I'll wake up and learn what the handful of Bangloraj fans (relatives?) see in this cheeseball, pseudo-alternative metal band. The musicians are OK. They rarely change keys or guitar tones, so there's the warmth of familiarity. But you know what familiarity breeds. Bangloraj is led by a singer who cannot sing or hold a note. Bobby thinks that it's cool to whisper into the microphone, then catapult into a loogie-pelting scream--and this happens a lot. There are 15 tracks of similar cheese-rock torture and balladry. "Cassius" stitches all the worst elements together: bad metal guitar, that whispering stuff, screaming and, for good measure, two voices trading screams. Bobby shows off his dexterity on "Alan," in which he confuses subtlety with volume. And for the most feeble bongos, kalimba, clichés and mouth-produced sound effects ever committed to tape, hit up "I Kissed an Angel." (TSI)

Steve Poltz
One Left Shoe

Steve Poltz offers witty personal observations that sometimes come across as brilliant. Poltz is the former singer of the San Diego band the Rugburns, and Jewel fans should thank him for encouraging the ethereal songbird to perform. They might also recognize him from the video for her "You Were Meant for Me," a song he co-wrote. Despite his ties to Jewel, Poltz and his poetic folk-rock music stand just fine on their own. His simple acoustic guitar playing and offbeat themes humanize his songs. One particularly good example is "Forbidden Fruit," a song about a prostitute who asks him for a date. Poltz sings, "My pants they tightened, and my face grew taut / And in my mind my mother said, 'You'd better not' / Then again, she always told me that I wouldn't like the taste of beer." (Sarah Quelland)

Pee Shy
Don't Get Too Comfortable

Pee Shy would fit right in at the Lilith Fair. This band's style is similar to that of the Indigo Girls, but Pee Shy is not yet of that caliber. Jenny Juristo has a soft voice with enough edge to carry the slightly bitter lyrics. The music has a worldly feel due to the various percussion instruments, clarinet, bass and accordion. Unfortunately, the cleverest thing about Pee Shy is its name. On "Much Obliged," Juristo sings, "You're never gonna find the needle / if you don't lay down in the hay." Even worse are the lyrics to "Fear": "When life gives you lemons, squeeze 'em into your eyes / and when life gives you lemons / I find it best to cry." Fans of the arty-girl-band genre may appreciate Pee Shy, but for the most part, this album walks the mediocre, radio-friendly line in music, lyric and voice. (Sarah Quelland)

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From the January 22-28, 1998 issue of Metro.

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