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[whitespace] Air/Moon Safari

Moon Safari

With its kitschy mix of Eurotrash soundscape and space-age lounge, Air's Moon Safari takes ambient music way into the next technotronic stratosphere. The French duo of Nicolas Godin and Jean Beniot Dunckel swirls together lush melodies, electronic screeches and synthesized orchestration for a sound that turns out sounding like the love child of "The Girl from Ipanema" and Pizzicato Five. But these guys aren't just riding a trendy wave; along with the rest of the French scene they are poised to wrestle the title of Electronica King away from the Brits. "Sexy Boy" and "Kelly Watch the Stars," two of the album's standouts, may have cheesy ELO-inflected vocals, but with the rest of Moon Safari they put a dreamily seductive spin on electronic music that ends up being warm, witty and more than a little inviting. (Karen Reardanz)

Nicotine/Hola Amigo

¡Hola Amigo!

There's a Japanese saying that the nail that sticks up gets pounded down. The constant blows must have knocked these four nihonjin punks silly. ¡Hola Amigo! is their proclamation of individuality using ska-punk as a flag. With a whine reminiscent of the Toy Dolls' Olga, vocalist Howie Sato chatters away about love ("Whatever Happens," "Jose," "Pop I") and staving off the pressures of Japanese society ("Hard to Understand," "Strain") to NOFX-style speed and plow. The covers of Daryl Hall's "Everytime You Go Away" and the Beatles' "All My Loving" add frosting to this plate of deep-fried grasshoppers. To Nicotine, not everything is as idyllic as it appears in Nagano, where they're considered a banned substance. (Todd S. Inoue)

Chris Cummings

Chris Cummings
Chris Cummings
Warner Bros.

The Levi's reveal that Cummings isn't an authentic country boy, but he sure sounds like one. Though sometimes unremarkable, the debut album of this 22-year-old from New Brunswick shows promise of the substance that put Garth Brooks on the charts. "Almost Always" is a classic honky-tonk number of the kind George Strait might sing. Cummings' voice has an appealing depth and his songs express sensitivity. On "I Waited," he sings, "I wanted to say 'I love you' at the perfect time/ and like a fool I waited 'til she said goodbye," and on "Somewhere Inside," a sad song about living in the past, he sings, "I took for granted that you'd never leave me/ and I guess in a way that you won't." (Sarah Quelland)

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From the April 2-8, 1998 issue of Metro.

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