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Eighty Mile Beach
Inclement Weather

Inclement Weather is a hypnotic, forlorn record soaked with jazzy anomie. San Francisco-based Eighty Mile Beach consists of only two people--Beth Custer and Christian Jones--but they use an ensemble's worth of instruments: clarinets, keyboards, trumpets, electric guitars, turntables and samplers. Like Beth Orton, Eighty Mile Beach manages to incorporate trip-hop elements into coffee-shop pop without ever seeming self-consciously trendy. But Eighty Mile Beach isn't as accessible as Orton--its music is more dissonant and meandering; on songs like the grating "5 Loop 7," the artsiness is off-putting. Listeners are also advised to ignore the embarrassing freshman poetry lyrics, especially the terribly earnest pro-cannabis "Hempen Homespun." These are minor complaints, though, when considered against the gorgeous, complex melodies, barely there beats and lovely, whispery singing. (Michelle Goldberg)

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Brian Jonestown Massacre
Strung Out in Heaven

Despite its bad-boy reputation, the Brain Jonestown Massacre has released an album that is full of fairly innocuous Britpop by way of L.A. That's not to disparage Strung Out in Heaven, it's just that the album's jangly, modish melodies are hardly what one would expect from a band that lists percussionist Joel Gion's stint working in "SF's biggest speed and acid lab" in its press bio. Brian Jones, of course, was the Rolling Stones' guitarist who drowned in 1969, and the influence of the early Stones is evident throughout, from the lazy, easy glamour to the shiny white-boy guitars touched with a bit of rough, sultry blues. But though the vibes and tambourines sound retro, they don't sound dated. Brian Jonestown Massacre makes youthquake psychedelia sound fabulous all over again. (MG)

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The Revenants
Artists and Whores

This foursome from Arizona, formerly known as the Suicide Kings, delivers vintage country at its finest. Rip-roaring, toe-tapping honky-tonk tunes like "Light at the End of the Bottle," "Flower on My Grave" and "Even Hookers Say Good-bye" draw the listener into the lonely Western desert in ways that would make Johnny Cash proud. The Revenants' songs beg for shooting pool and slamming back whiskey shots in the smokiest dives. With help from guitarist and former Gin Blossom Deke Taylor, vocalist Bruce Connole cries out in a delightfully nasal twang, "You and all your glamorous friends got your uptown scene/Talking through your cigarettes you don't even know what you mean." All 14 tracks are cleverly written fragments of reckless lives haunted by eerie harmonies. (Sarah Quelland)

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The Kirby Grips
The Celery Stalks at Night
Late Bloomers

Nonsensical at times, this spunky girl-group delivers quirky power pop spritzed with punk, grunge, folk and metal. Innocent little girl voices sing, "Red dye number 19 in my lipstick/Cancer mouth, don't you wanna kiss it?" ("My Doll"). "Liar" combines some Courtney Love-styled vocals ("Hit and run for fun but don't tell Gary") with whisper-sweet echoes before segueing into the slow-driving line "We should buy some good wine, bread and cheese, blueberries and cream, a little coffee." Slightly obscure bits of narrative are interjected between the songs, pulling together the kitschy theme of album's title. Although not overwhelmingly inspired, this fresh, breathy trio from San Francisco is peculiarly catchy. (SQ)

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From the July 30-Aug. 5, 1998 issue of Metro.

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