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Don McLean
For the Memories
Hip-O

Supposedly, in Wisconsin they serve roasted corn smothered in mayonnaise. The flavor must be similar to this selection of 21 vintage tunes by Mr. American Pie (who ought not to be resented for his twin hits; remember, if you got tired of "American Pie" and "Starry Night," imagine how sick McLean got of playing them at 1,000,000 county fairs). The songs--"Travelin' Man," "Crazy," "Maybe Baby"--are recognizable from K-Tel samplers and are styled by McLean for people who find that James Taylor makes them too twitchy and restless. McLean, having the taste to hire the sublime backup group the Jordinaires, is noticeably better on the older tunes--corning up "Someone to Watch Over Me" and covering in sturdy fashion "If I Only Had a Match" but holding the mayo on a respectably dramatic show tune called "Over the Weekend." (Richard Von Busack)


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10,000 Maniacs
Love Among the Ruins
Geffen

The 10,000 Maniacs have risen. Four years after Natalie Merchant's departure, the band has found a suitable replacement in vocalist/viola player Mary Ramsey. And inevitably, comparisons will be made --and Ramsey will be accused of being a Merchant clone. Certainly, the similarities are prominent: a sisterly physical resemblance and the same mild, muted soprano. But Ramsey is a musician inher own right. Her viola solos add a country tinge ("Rainy Day" and "Even With My Eyes Closed"), and her careful enunciation and polished delivery reveal her vocal training. Love Among the Ruins does not attempt to be a Merchant revival. It is, instead, a successful album of smooth, romantic pop songs done in traditional 10,000 Maniacs jangle-pop style. (Bernice Yeung)


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Soda Pop
Soda Pop F**k You
Bad Monkey

Imagine the Selecter influenced by Tilt's Cinder Block. SPFU is a female-fronted hyperkinetic ska-punk quartet that started in Santa Cruz and nows lives in Oakland. The group's self-titled CD, its first, is a reeling pleasure. The eight tracks run from bouncy ska-punk ("Nightmares," "Bullshit") to Ramones-y crisis ("Theme Song"). Lead vocalist Cristina, who has a deep and expressive voice, delivers bilingual lyrics on "Spanish Song," rails against bandwagoneers on "Bullshit" and sticks it to oppressive jocks with her rapid-fire delivery on "Fuck You." Why this group hasn't caught on more in the South Bay, I'll never know. (Todd S. Inoue)


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Shantel
Club Guerilla
Shadow

Don't be misled by the dust jacket, Shantel is far from a commercial R&B act. This androidal, relentlessly unfunky Euro-dance (Shantel is from Germany) music is undoubtedly meant to be hip, but Club Guerilla's postdisco disco is strictly a no-go affair. Things begin unpromisingly enough with gurgling German-rock keyboards, i.e., synthetic percussion and wooden handclaps. "Move Your Hands" fares somewhat better. Things start slipping southward, however, when the synthesizers crop up again and burble on like a would-be friend who doesn't know when to shut up. (Nicky Baxter) [ Metro | Metroactive Central | Archives ]


From the July 3-9, 1997 issue of Metro.

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