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Jonny Polonsky
Hi, My Name Is Jonny

Perusing Jonny Polonsky's ostensibly true-to-life confessional, you sense that the guy's got a colossal head and, perhaps, a skewed sense of self. The album jacket's typewritten screed (complete with scratched-out lines--how cute) reveals that the Illinois singer, songwriter and guitarist thought he was quite the prodigy, calling himself "the Amazing Jonny Polonsky." Demos such as "Premium White American" caught the attention of Frank Black, who connected Polonsky with American Recordings, a fitting home for the soon-to-be rock star. Though it is not that amazing, Hi, My Name Is Jonny is quite an impressive start. Guilelessly broadcasting his influences, the singer has copped his craft from some of the masters of white pop. The album includes grand nods to everyone from the Beatles to Nirvana ("In My Mind," "Evil Scurvy Love"). Not surprisingly, Polonsky's quite a Black fan; "Half Mind" is all Frank with its chirpy, hook-happy chorus and quavering vocals. Not nearly as gnarly as Black, Polonsky reminds one of a vaguely sinister Jonathan Richman--childlike posey with a twist of bitter. (Nicky Baxter)

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William Claxton

Never Ending Game, Vol. 1

The Bay Area's Dreadformation rejects hip-hop's poetic formula and takes baby steps toward Arrested Development. Never Ending Game, Vol. 1 lays live jazz fusion under monotonic messages from a commercially saturated society. Dreadformation aims for social poetry and intellectual grace but gets lost in a forest of overused words (reciting, for example, excerpts from deodorant ads in "If I Had" and "Ain't Got Time to Sweat"). The tracks with Carmen Lundy ("Never Ending Game") and seasoned jazz mistress Dianne Reeves ("Forever We Love"), however, move the group above musical mediocrity. Three experimental grooves--"Street of San Francisco," "Intense Reaction" and "Tubagroove"--add freshness and flair with ocean waves, street noise and electronic verbiage layered with pure instrumental bliss. (Sheila Dawkins)

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Steve Double

At the Brit Awards
No Label

There's no music here, but there is a lot of drama. This red vinyl 45 disc contains Oasis' notorious acceptance speeches from the 1996 Brit Awards--the U.K. version of the Grammys. Liam and Noel Gallagher talk a bunch of well-oiled Cockney shit at the podium--dissing Blur and giving award presenter Michael Hutchence a well-deserved reality check ("I don't think has-beens should be giving awards to gonna-bes"). The single captures the Brit brats at their most hedonistic and swaggering. A must for Oasis fans. A must for Blur fans--to avoid. (Todd S. Inoue)

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The Gufs
The Gufs

If collecting nasal modern rock is your latest hobby: meet the Gufs. The group, which applies a Midwestern accent to its simulation of the Euro-music influx of 10 years ago, squeezes sonic juice from "here we go again" vocals and trained, pedestrian basslines. The album starts with U2-like rumblings in the upbeat "Smile," raising fears of plagiarism, and indeed, the Gufs' monotonic cocktails of percussion and wordplay explode into memories of the '80s. The group does, however, break off tasty bits of originality in "Crash," "Let Her Go" and "Losers Love Song," fusing depressing stories of relationships with nice backbeats from the sticks. A refreshing release of joy-joy feelings comes in "Listen to the Trees." (SD)

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From the May 23-29, 1996 issue of Metro

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