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Aroma
Aromatic for the People
Fuse

From the City of Brotherly Love and bombed-out neighborhoods comes Aroma, a trio seemingly afflicted with a perpetually downbeat syndrome, which is hardly a novel occurrence in postmodern rock. Aromatic for the People is built from the ground up on scratchy-throated vocals, introspective lyrics and an often dolorous rhythm section. From its antediluvian eight-track production to its sly dig at the $80-million-dollar men in R.E.M., the album is anti-corporate and anti-establishment. Perhaps not surprisingly, much of the group's music has that hip British pallor, and "Diluted" and "Eternal" ride the Cure's jock much too hard. When Aroma relies on its own devices, however, as it does on "Harpoon King" and "Bomb Squad," you can almost smell the dying roses seeking the sun. (Nicky Baxter)


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Spider Babies
Adventures in Sex and Violence
G.I. Productions

Spider Babies is made up of three incredibly run-of-the-mill punk rockers from Oregon. The submoronic blitzkrieg bop is in the vein of the Germs or the Queers--without the Beach Boys influence. Kevin and Jesse (no last names) share asthmatic vocal duties. The CD is split evenly with six songs about sex ("Suck It to Me Baby," "Junior High School Cuties," "Want You Right Here") and violence ("I Wanna Eat Your Flesh," "Evil Love"). The cymbal-heavy punk discharge would probably sound a lot better live than on CD, but that compliment is a stretch. This Portland trio should learn that sex and violence are a lot more closely linked than they would like to believe. (Todd S. Inoue)


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Artifacts
That's Them
Big Beat

Serious radioheads have probably peeped and dug Artifacts' smash single, "The Ultimate," featured on the High School High soundtrack. The number flaunted an irresistible old-school chorus and big-shot braggadocio propped up by blue-hills-of-Kentucky wails and stalagmite-sharp guitar. On That's Them, the remix comes with a new set of lyrics and a flotilla of synth loops, hand claps and turntable abracadabra. El Da Sensai and Tame One have constructed a minor masterpiece of land-mine beats, hummable melodies and script that only rap professors could come up with. There's bully-boy smack-talking on "Where Your Skillz At?" and free-for-all rapping on "The Interview." One of the album's sharpest cuts, "Collaboration of the Mics," finds El and Tame going at it with Brand Nubian Lord Jamaar. (NB)


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Pneuma
Pneuma
Eclipse

I don't know what mailing list I got on, but this album belongs to someone far more ecologically sound and earth-friendly. Pneuma makes save-the-world music with some knowledge of funk--think of a pair of bell bottoms topped with a Guatemalan vest--and is blessed with a competent bass-and-drum duo in Arvin Nealy and Dave Flores. They give songs like "Ashes to Asphalt" and "Different District" some ample backbone. The vocals sink this ship, however. When not mixed low, Pneuma's vocal melodies are overwhelmingly bland, and the highs evaporate in the mist. There's somebody for whom this music is meant--funky ecologists, Beavis and Butt-head's teacher, perhaps--but not me. (TSI)

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From the May 15-21, 1997 issue of Metro

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