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Psyclone Rangers
The Devil May Care
World Domination

In the grand tradition of Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, Jonathan Valania of the Psyclone Rangers doesn't bother with such pop niceties as melody, tunefulness or even good taste; he just drones catatonically. On Devil May Care, Valania's bone-dry delivery rarely wavers, nor does the monomaniacal rumble behind him. The Rangers bash away with the crude, relentless zeal of the early Stooges or Velvet Underground. But there's a certain twisted "twang thing" going on here that has much to do with the fact that the album was recorded by an Englishman, Ian Caple, in Memphis. The best tracks ("Deal," the grinding "Firenze" and the aptly titled "Mono Town") manage to meld the postmodernism of New York City with the cantankerous spirit of the South. That the Rangers' sophomore effort includes covers of both Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers as well as some half-forgotten bluegrass numbers says volumes about the group's bifurcated vision. (Nicky Baxter)

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Growing Up
Fat Wreck Chords

Do all the bands on Fat Wreck Chords borrow each other's guitars, backing vocals, stomp boxes and syncopated chug-thrash-chug rhythms? From the evidence of the label's latest act, Japan's Hi-Standard, the answer is yes. Though Hi-Standard is truth in advertising, most of Growing Up doesn't vary from the Fat farm format. "Lonely" and "Summer of Love" sound like No Use for a Name or Lagwagon with Japanese accents. "Who'll Be Next" deviates from this mode temporarily with tricked-out guitar effects that swing for the fences. Growing Up will please the growing legion of Fat Wreck Chords followers, but may put off the rest of us growing tired of rampant distortion. Note: Skankin' Pickle fans can listen for Lars Nylander and Gerry Lundquist blurting away during an upbeat cover of the Bay City Rollers' "Saturday Night." (Todd S. Inoue)

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Dub: The Next Frontier

The dread-wearing Brits get heads bobbing with an album rippling with cosmic echoes. The
liner notes proclaim Aswad's quest "to seek out new grooves, to colonize new rhythms, to boldly dub where no band has dubbed before." It's an accurate introduction; The Next Frontier is indeed a dub uprising. Drums and horns orbit electronic sampling while reggae riddims pump up the positivity on "Shine," "Day by Day" and "Rhythm of Life." Other cuts bring out the lovers: "Fever," with hot flashes of special effects, and "So Good," with slow and sensual vocals that draw the curtains on a galactic night of romance. Soul II Soul's trademark bassline--along with samples of Batman and The Mask--add sonic pleasure to the explosion of reverb from the captains of commercial reggae. (Sheila Dawkins)

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Mountain Brothers
Mountain Brothers EP
Magnificent Butcher

Hailing from Philadelphia, this trio of talented tongue trippers is on to some new ideas. Set to an organic vibes & stuff soundscape reminiscent of fellow Philly hip-hoppers the Roots, the Mountain Brothers are flow pros who cause more tension than Jenga. Three emcees--Chops, Peril and Styles--pile on metaphors rich in brain cells and emollients. "Paperchase" describes the inevitable search for greenbacks with a positively enlightening backing track. "Go for Broke" snatches the catch phrase of the famous WWII Japanese-American 442nd troupe as its chorus. "I Feel Good Tonight" packs headstrong beats and scratches. The mood is baggy--cool, comfy and stylistic. It's going to be a big year for the Mountain Brothers; they recently won a Sprite national rap contest and will appear in an upcoming commercial. (TSI)

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From the May 16-22, 1996 issue of Metro

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