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Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers
Everybody's Talkin' 'Bout Miss Thing!
Fat Note Records

A staple on the Bay Area's swing scene, this provocative outfit takes a classy approach to traditional big-band swing and jump blues, incorporating salsa, bebop and sultry New Orleans-styled R&B into its classic sound. Led by Lavay Smith, with her pinup-girl curves and glamorous wardrobe, the band transports its audience to another era. Smith's rapturous vocals bring to mind Dinah Washington or Billie Holiday; her Red Hot Skillet Lickers are a horn-heavy band composed of quality musicians who have performed and recorded with the kings and queens of jazz. This 16-song album combines stunning original material with a classic repertoire of music recorded by Count Basie, Big Maybelle, Dizzy Gillespie and others, as well as a few obscure gems. Dedicated to the music of the '30s and '50s and dripping with authenticity, Lavay and mates could well be the modern-day keepers of classic jazz and blues. The album is as hot as its name suggests. (Sarah Quelland)

The Sickness

This heavy four-piece from Chicago would go over well on the local metal scene. Although Disturbed lifts from bands like Korn, Tool, Ministry and Static-X, the result is reasonably distinctive and cleanly produced. Vocalist David Draiman barks out abrupt, screaming vocals full of stream-of consciousness lyrics and metal-rap verse. From the fast-paced "Voices"--a metal assault full of electronic swirls, pulses and scratches--Disturbed takes detours into Orgy-styled dance beats ("The Game"), ghetto synths ("Fear") and tribal rhythms ("Down With the Sickness" and "Conflict"). The most striking song is the twisted "Meaning of Life," with the repetitive lyrics "wanna get psycho." The band also covers Tears for Fears' "Shout" ("Shout 2000"). Disturbed is consistently heavy on bass, percussion and guitar, and its complex songs are full of melody. Though it's not doing anything revolutionary, the band is a solid addition to the neo-industrial rock-metal movement. (SQ)

Pet Shop Boys

If you cult-worship the Pet Shop Boys like millions of sweaty dance-room aficionados, then you already own this album. But what about those of you who thought Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe went the way of all English Top of the Popsters to VH-1 nostalgic heavy rotation heaven? With Nightlife, their 15th album, the Pet Shop Boys are still doling out more than a few ambitious words of help to the downtrodden on songs like "I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Anymore" and "Happiness Is an Option." Tennant and Lowe use the London Sessions Orchestra, Metro Voices Choir and the latest sonic tchotchkes for the danciest, sharpest, most inimitable Pet Shop Boys vibe in years. Look for their cutting-edge stage show designed by uber-architect Zaha Hadid. (Alyssa Nitchun)

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From the March 30-April 5, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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