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Letters to Cleo

Letters to Cleo's upbeat tunes recall the '80s. In a breezy little-girl voice, Kay Hanley spouts verses like "I know that the wonder of you is done / I'm tired and bloody and good to be gone" with just enough edge to skirt bubble-gum pop. Go! is the Boston quintet's third album in seven years, and the group has through changes since Here and Now. With a new drummer and new producer, Peter Collins (Jewel, Sneaker Pimps), Letters to Cleo has created an album bursting with energy. "I Got Time," "Go!" and "Sparklegirl" stand out, and though "I'm a Fool" and "Disappear" could be stronger, there's not one bad song on the album. (Sarah Quelland)

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The Aquamen
Do Thee Alkeehol! (And Other Hits)

Not the Aqua Velvets, not the Aquabats, it's the Aquamen. The San Francisco band fell off the wagon of traditional surf music long ago. The Aquamen stagger around stage in suits, striking metal poses, yowling in staccato outbursts. The band's unique blend of spastic surf "intoxica" channels the spirits of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Man ... or Astroman? and Dean Martin in a boozy seance. Main topics of choice: sucking 'em up ("Gin and Tonic," "Jose Cuervo," "Wild Turkey"), dancing up a storm (the explosive "Do Thee Alkeehol") and some nonalcoholic selections ("Cuz Yo a Woman," "Beans and Rice," "Panty Raid"). The fellas claim to have tossed back more than a few during recording of the album, and the result can be heard in a smattering of overeager timing mistakes. But so what? The Aquamen bring out the "happy drunk" in all of us. (TSI)

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Rop Style
You're Gonna Dig This

The latest tape of turntable trickery from Pee Chees/Lefties bassist Rop Vasquez is a distinctly lo-fi affair. Rop cuts up a menagerie of samples over beats on a shorted-out tape deck that allows him to flip left and right channels with a flick of a switch. On side one, Rop chops up a harsh tone (over N.W.A.'s "Gangsta, Gangsta") as if he's soldering a bottle opener to a tailgate. Side two contains more straight-ahead scratch heroics using standard-issue battle wax. Rop's basement tapes are flavorful and DIY. Even better, he's has an upcoming tape devoted to scratching indie-rock records. (TSI)

Pinhead Circus
Detailed Instructions for the Self Involved
BYO Records

The lyrics to this punk trio's songs read like the soundtrack to the life of someone who's lost at love and wants to go back to simpler days. With the exception of "Carefree Metal Daze," an ode to ditching school, skateboarding all day and drinking the night away, every song seems to be about the same girl breaking the same guy's heart. Sentiments like "I spent six months with you / With nothing left to show" cut to the bone of failed adolescent romances, and Pinhead Circus' invigorating, fast-paced rhythms draw the listener into the band's weird world. The bonus cover of Night Ranger's "Don't Tell Me You Love Me" isn't too shabby either. (Sarah Quelland)

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From the Nov. 13-19, 1997 issue of Metro.

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