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J Church
Drama of Alienation
Honest Don's

There's drama, and there's mad drama. J Church documents both. In a way, J Church is a musical version of the autobiographical zine Cometbus, detailing life in sometimes sad but brilliant installments. Drama of Alienation is another collection of simple punk-pop songs about getting old ("Alone When You Die"), low self-esteem ("Undisputed King of Nothing," "Crop Circles") and even cruising the Boardwalk ("Santa Cruz"). The standout track is "You're on Your Own," a scathing indictment of heroin abuse. With the beefed-up production and Reed Burgoyne's rat-a-tat drum fills, Lance Hahn's frustration bleeds through his gums on the track. The label, Honest Don's, a subsidiary of Fat Wreck Chords, has given the band an adrenaline shot, making Drama of Alienation J Church's fullest, cleanest-sounding release to date. (Todd S. Inoue)

Various Artists
Gross Pointe Blank Soundtrack

It was just a matter of time until '80s alternative was relaunched as a nostalgic button-pusher in a '90s film. This soundtrack to the John Cusack movie is draped in pure '80s regalia--the Clash, David Bowie with Queen, early Faith No More, the English Beat, the Specials, the Jam. It would be a waste to buy this album if you already have the versions on dusty records, but as Pete Townshend once noted: The music industry has ways of selling the same music back to you. Violent Femmes fans, take note: Gross Pointe Blank contains two versions of "Blister in the Sun." The first sounds like a demo; the second, "Blister 2000," sounds like the Stanford Marching band. See the movie and pull the records out of storage when you get home. (TSI)

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Sean Deason
Studio K7

Detroit's come a long way from Berry Gordy's Motown to its present techno scene. Or has it? Gordy's success was, in part, attributable to his K-I-S-S beat philosophy, keeping the groove so simple so that, er, Dick Clark's Bandstand could get it right. Motor City's techno is also emphatically groove-y; you're not bludgeoned into stunned submission by triple-digit beats-per-minute. Sean Deason's Razorback is a fairly representative example of Detroit's alternative dance music. Seamless yet suitably variegated, the young sound engineer's debut album has something even for staunch techno-phobes. This is music whittled down to its barest essentials. On these tracks, percussion isn't just king, it is queen, duke and earl as well. Aside from the canned drumming, Deason deploys synthesizer sparingly; on certain cuts, "Jupiter Sunrise" and "Wisdom (2030 Mix)" in particular, Deason assumes a painterly approach, using sweeping brush strokes and swirling color schemes to complete his sonic portraits. (Nicky Baxter)

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Sylvia Roger

Stan Getz
East of the Sun: The West Coast Sessions

Verve has just released the contents of four 1955-57 Getz LPs plus 12 previously unreleased tracks on this three-CD set. Getz has the backing of pianist Lou Levy, bassist Leroy Vinnegar and drummers Shelly Manne and Stan Levy on all the tracks, while trumpeter Conte Candoli appears on some. Candoli ranks on a level with Kenny Dorham among bop and post-bop trumpeters, but he has been ignored because he got involved with the West Coast jazz school, which is not well-regarded by many critics and fans currently, while Dorham worked with more important East Coast musicians. Candoli performs laudably on East of the Sun, although, possibly because of the restrained Getz's presence, he doesn't open up and display the power with which he's capable of playing; his excellent upper-register work is practically nonexistent. Lou Levy came to the fore with Woody Herman, with whom he soloed brilliantly. Here, he does a praiseworthy job, displaying a Bud Powell influence. Even on up-tempo selections, Getz emphasizes melodic improvisation, and his solos are often marked by a shy beauty. He has outstanding technique, though, as his pyrotechnics on "Shine" illustrate. (Harvey Pekar)

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From the March 27-April 2, 1997 issue of Metro

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