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[whitespace] Snowbug

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The High Llamas
Snowbug
V2/ Wasabi/ DNA

The High Llamas' fourth release is loaded with ghostly soundscapes and moody chamber pop. Singer, guitarist and songwriter Sean O'Hagan takes his lead from Brian Wilson but borrows just as freely from exotica (Eden Ahbez, Esquivel and Martin Denny), Brazilian music (the album's opener, "Bach Ze," is an homage to Brazilian guitarist Tom Ze) and '60s rock, evoking the eerie harmonies of the Byrds and the Zombies. O'Hagan seems to have come down with a case of the millennium blues as Snowbug is rife with subtle apocalyptic imagery ("shutters come down/safety inside/exile at home/this is more than just a place where we hide"). Snowbug falters a bit in the instrumental-heavy second half with the "break it down" steel-drum solo in "Janet Jangle" and the silly circus funk groove on "Green Coaster." The High Llamas create a deeply textured vibe-driven tapestry when restrained, but go a tad far with pre-apocalyptic gluttony. (Kevin McCarthy)


There's Nothing Left to Lose

Foo Fighters
There's Nothing Left to Lose

There's nothing left to ... the imagination in the Foo Fighters' latest attempt to cram rock & roll down the throats of PSAT all-stars and edgier fans of WB's evening lineup. When former members of Nirvana, Sunny Day Real Estate and Alanis Morissette's tour band came together to record this year, somebody felt like kicking some ass. While interest in pummeling booty as the chief artistic motivation is hardly unique to these alternaveterans, this album's frantic, guitar-centric choruses, cymbal-heavy breakaways and splintered vocals do make it seem as though Dave Grohl and the others are, indeed, "dying to get [their] blood on you." Tucked amid Fight Club rehearsal tracks are radio-ready tunes with saccharine choruses to satisfy any inebriated young partygoer riding home over the Bay Bridge. (Sara Marx)


Blue

Third Eye Blind
Blue

So maybe the guitar part in one of the songs slinks past VU's "Sweet Jane" by a single note, and maybe a song about waiting to find out whether a girlfriend is knocked up contains a sample from some sort of a boys' church choir for purposes unknown. The fact is, there is something unavoidably well-intentioned, dependable and above-board about Third Eye Blind that absolves the band of all indications of creative deficiency, including one especially curious attempt to sound metal (nobody puts Baby in a corner). While Blue does not boast as many doo-laden hymns as its eponymous predecessor, it has enough pop high jinks, gadgets and monosyllabic declarations of loves lost and won to remind hometown fans who their daddy is. (SM)


S&M

Metallica
S&M

How can you pass up a double-disc set by Metallica backed by the San Francisco Symphony? Grumble Albert Hall and yell Unplugged all you want. Metallica rocks, and how can you pass up nine-minute versions of classics like "Master of Puppets" and "Enter Sandman" when they're bolstered by horn quartets. The highbrow/lowbrow fusion would make even Barthes smile. This is an amazing, amazing thing and didn't get the attention it deserved when it happened. Hopefully, the set will get its proper due. (Michael Stabile)


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From the December 9-15, 1999 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 1999 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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