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Picks by Doug James (DJ), Sarah Mueller (SM) and Michael Stabile (MS).

Magnolia Soundtrack
Various artists; Reprise Records

A solo album masquerading as a soundtrack, Magnolia finds Aimee Mann providing the background for Paul Thomas Anderson's sprawling portrait of lost souls in the San Fernando Valley. Mann never strays far away from the strained relationships and broken people that have also populated her two earlier albums. Luckily, her pet themes are a perfect match for Anderson's vision; during the film, Mann's songs seem brilliant, resonating along with the bruised psyches on display. Separated from the visuals, the impact they once had dissipates, leaving a collection of intelligent, well-crafted songs that unfortunately aren't very memorable. The lone exception is "Wise Up," a quiet lament of desperation that stays with you long after the lights go up and the music fades. (DJ)


In the video for the first single from Voodoo, the pleading ballad "Untitled (How Does it Feel)," D'Angelo sings earnestly and nakedly into the camera in the tradition of "When Doves Cry." On this sophomore album it's apparent that D'Angelo loves to flex his sexual muscles ferociously while channeling inspiration from the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, Marvin Gaye and Al Green. I thought D had outdone himself on his debut by making Smokey Robinson's "Cruisin' " even more romantic, but then he comes up with an undulating, utterly convincing version of Roberta Flack's "Feel Like Makin' Love." He displays his sensitive side on the wistful "One Mo' Gin" and throughout this entire album shows us that R&B's wonder boy is a real man. (SM)

Hello My Friends Do You Read Me?

It seems that Scotland can't get enough of cloning, given the wicked success of Dolly the doppelgänged ewe--the newest boy "supergroup" is suspiciously similar to Beck, in triplicate. Like Olivia Newton-John in Xanadu, Tam! has taken Beck's voice and has it singing its own backup. Unfortunately, as cute as they are, the members of Tam! never quite win the mellow gold. They do, however, manage to break the boy-group mold set by NKOTB all those years ago. Their unapologetic homage to Odelay is as pleasing as an homage can be, destined as it is to fall short of its target. (MS)

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From the March 6, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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