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Left Hand/Universal Records

Inviting comparisons to acts from Third Eye Blind to Beck (and with strong glints of icons like the Beatles), this London-based band extracts key elements of pop music from the '60s to create its own unusual blend for the present. From the Beach Boys-flavored harmonies of "Long Time Coming" to the tinkling, sun-kissed happiness of the reggae-tinged "Got 2 B Luv," the band covers a lot of ground musically. The delicate crescendo in "Merry-Go-Round" buoys the contemplative song, while the lonely accompaniment in "Closer" illuminates the number's unfulfilled desire. Still, Bottlefly may be at its best with the carnival atmosphere of the title track and the seductive desert twang of "Sunshine," which suggest an intriguing darkness similar to brilliant lesser-known bands like Sixteen Horsepower and Firewater. (Sarah Quelland)

J Mascis + the Fog
More Light
Ultimatum Music/Artemis Records

Hailing from Amherst, Mass., J Mascis, the former vocalist and guitarist of Dinosaur Jr., is best described as Neil Young meets Soul Asylum (another Massachusetts band that emerged in the mid-'80s). Dinosaur Jr. is considered one of the pioneers of the early grunge scene, due largely to Mascis' coarse whine and lazy guitar fuzz. Despite his tendency toward virtually tone-deaf meanderings, Mascis became an indie-rock icon, much like Evan Dando of the Lemonheads. In true slacker form, on this new solo album the name "the Fog" represents a lineup that Mascis had yet to develop while recording. Still, More Light's loose, almost amateur construction is--strangely enough--as pleasing as it is grating. Mascis is proof that sometimes a potent rock & roll aura and effective songs are as powerful as legitimate musical ability. (Sarah Quelland)

Austin Lounge Lizards
Never an Adult Moment
Sugar Hill

The opening song, "Grunge Song," sounds exactly like Cracker, which is a peculiar direction for this ace satirical bluegrass et cetera band to take. Here, the Texas sextet explains the specs of the grunge song ("This is the part of the song that gets real quiet"). Kurt Cobain and company really just adopted the typical tantrum-and-sulk motif of the rock song, exemplified by "Stairway to Heaven" ("AND IT WILL COME TO YOU ANON!" Which seeps back to sulk: and she's buy-aye-ing a stairway to heaven"). The rest of the CD is more typical ALL jackassery. "Waitin' On a Call From Don" tells of the terrors of waiting for an auto mechanic's diagnosis. "Hillbillies in a Haunted House" is inspired by the 1967 Ferlin Husky film of the same name (or is this tune the love theme from that film, which also starred Rathbone, Carradine, Chaney Jr. and Guy Inagorillasuit?). "Forty Years Old and I'm Living in My Mom's Garage" is self-explanatory and all too true. "Rasputin's HMO" is a protest song against managed care, in the form of an antique murder ballad. Here, the wordplay and musicianship are up to the band's usual high standards. More grunge next time! (Richard von Busack)

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From the November 23-29, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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