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Wu-Tang Clan
Wu-Tang Forever
Loud

The new Wu two-CD album reunites the clan--four years older, four years wiser, nine times richer. This is the Sandinista! of hip-hop: plenty of high points that could have been compressed into one CD. Method Man's calm, precise lines are the most consistently inspired, especially on "Cash Still Rules/Scary Hours" and "Visionz." The immense posse cuts--"Severe Punishment," "Hellz Wind Staff," "Visionz"--are awesome, but the set isn't without its faults. There are some played-out bitch/ho sex rhymes; "Maria" sounds like a discard; and "Dog Shit" finds ODB attempting sex-scat. Conceptually, Wu-Tang Forever takes listeners on an extended ride-along program filled with playas, drug dealers and "tricks" of the trade--all spiked with the honor of a John Woo flick. (Todd S. Inoue)


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Radish
Restraining Bolt
Mercury

Like the boys of Silverchair and songwriter prodigy Ben Lee, 15-year-old guitarist/vocalist Ben Kweller of Radish started scribbling down rock songs before he was old enough to take a driving test. Radish's "sugar metal" consists of perky pop melodies perched atop waves of very electric guitar and lumbering basslines. Likewise, Kweller's singing mutates from harmonic fluidity to a gruff heavy-metal roar. Kweller doesn't dwell on typical teenager tragedies and topics, writing instead about nuclear war, racism and change. That doesn't mean he isn't honest about his age; the best numbers are the most candid: "Failing and Leaving," a song about doing poorly in school, and "Little Pink Stars," a love song full of youthful idealism. (Bernice Yeung)


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The Siren Six
The Voice With a Built In Promise
Kingpin

The technical recipe for ska is hardly complex: a hyperactive beat paired with braying trombone, sassy sax and Farfisa organ. The Siren Six step to the plate with all of the above. Their album is par for the course for the latest ska revival. Nate Bott is the Voice; and it's not a bad one. His earnest and spunky vocals keep things afloat, and his sense of phrasing is better than average. "Get It Right," an amphetamine-propelled two-minute number, best illustrates the frontman's way with words. On "One Sided," Bott's chukka-chukka guitar is up front, aided and abetted by some Rico Rodrigues­like trombone playing. With its heavy guitars and slamming ska-rock pulse, "Burn" hints at a road less traveled, and for my money, the Six ought to take it. In fact, "Burn" would be a real gas if it weren't for Bott's "darkie-town" whoops. (Nicky Baxter)

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From the July 17-23, 1997 issue of Metro.

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