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American Recordings

Wesley Willis Fiasco
Fabian Road Warrior

In the same way that Eraserhead or Raymond and Peter entertain by being discomfiting, Fabian Road Warrior may strike some sensitive listeners as unadulterated exploitation. Willis, a former Chicago street musician and diagnosed schizophrenic, finds comfort in jolly-time rock & roll. To the sound of an elastic Moog-like keyboard and processed Casio beat, Willis bleats out tributes to friends, bands ("Brutal Juice," "Tripping Daisy," "Silverchair") and his condition ("Shoot My Jam Session Down"). The only discernible changes, besides the topics, are minor chords, tempos and the ass of whatever animal is being whipped--"It whipped a snow leopard's/werewolf's/llama's/etc. ass!" Though the songs possess a seductive tug, the repetitiveness and off-key singing will keep Willis barred from the eccentric-genius category. Which is probably better for all of us, especially Willis, who is more Wild Man Fischer than Roky Erickson. (Todd S. Inoue)

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Dennis Keeley

Paul Westerberg

Ever since Paul Westerberg put down the loud and bratty 'Mats, he's been pursuing pop's more musically polished side. He was always the closet romantic, but during the Replacements' early years, his urges were buried beneath the noisy punk high-sidin'. By the time All Shook Down was released, however, Westerberg had assumed total control. On Eventually, the singer, songwriter and guitarist continues where 14 Songs left off. The jingle-jangle morning guitar of the kick-off track coexists with the pungent pop of "Century" (listen for the ascending Byrds-like chords on the song's bridge and the irresistible yah-yah-yah chorus). With producer Brendan O'Brien behind the boards, a certain ratio of sheen is expected, but that doesn't prevent the beating heart of Eventually from making you feel where Westerberg's coming from. (Nicky Baxter)

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Ovarian Trolley
Broken Rekids

Everyone thinks that Alanis Morissette is the epitome of feminist angst, but you haven't experienced the true emotional purging of the Angry Female until you've sat through Ovarian Trolley's Bullseye. The pro-female presence, as can be gleaned from the band's name, is prominent, and the pained, woman-scorned vocals are the group's most salient feature. Jennifer and Laurie Hall emit dueling wails that writhe with ennui and indignation--or they scream and yell to make sure their "voices" are heard. The songs address issues of pregnancy ("Tiny Person"), domesticity ("Weeds") and betrayal. "Sweet Bird" is muted and mock country, an interesting contrast to the lilting guitars, jeering bass and heaviness that comprise the rest of Bullseye. Ovarian Trolley's music is certainly not for the fainthearted; the record's nearly discordant songs show no mercy, and there's enough malicious energy in Bullseye to set off a nuclear explosion. Sure, Alanis may be bitter (or jagged), but Ovarian Trolley is pissed. (Bernice Yeung)

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Amy X Neuburg & Men

Utechma is just the sort of weird beautiful fullness we've come to expect from the intractably independent Racer Records. The Oakland outfit's effortless melange of exotic instrumental soundscapes bounces from the wayward rhythmic pulse and piquant lyrical thrust of "Chinatown" to the burning loins of "Into That Hole." Neuberg's vocals are a miracle; she is, by turns, a frigid dispenser of cold truths, a siren and an eccentric. There are lots of references to "mouths," "breathing" and "dreams," but thankfully, the "please baby baby please" drivel is right out of there. Her male accompanists are integral to her world, but by no means is she the musically useless chanteuse so common in pop. Indeed, Amy's far from slouchy on the instrumental end; her synths, keyboards and drumming receive equal treatment with her singing. No surprise, considering that Neuburg wrote and produced Utechma. (NB)

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