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[whitespace] Picks by Michelle Goldberg (MG) and Sarah Quelland (SQ)


Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk
Meco
Hip-O Records

With all the excitement surrounding The Phantom Menace, this retro-styled space funk album couldn't have come out at a better time. Though the original Star Wars was first released at the height of the disco era, its epic soundtrack (composed by John Williams) was anything but funky; this album is nothing but. Imagine the music to Star Wars bastardized to the theme song of CHiPs or some other popular '70s TV show, and you'll get a good idea of what Meco's offering is all about. Harold Wheeler's unusual arrangements of the songs (including the theme from the original Star Wars) are jazzed up with cheery special effects, including droid beeps and whistles and alien jabberings. (SQ)


Boy Kicks Girl
Public Display of Aggression
Icky Girl Productions

Opening with an irate message left on an answering machine by a threatening mother, this DIY local punk trio's latest release proves it has definite staying power. With ultrasnotty vocals and fast-tempo melodies, the band's upbeat, satirical songs come straight out of high school suburbia with references to lockers and sweatshirts. The name's no accident; the band formed at a time when the members had been abandoned by their girlfriends and the name was, well, therapeutic. That's not to say they're completely down on love. "Little Things" boasts some tender moments as LaBounty sings, "Though I know you are asleep/I whisper to your ear/Words that would make you feel/Like the night when we first kissed." (SQ)


The Chemical Brothers
Surrender
Astralwerks

The Chemical Brothers' latest album forgoes the bombastic block-rocking beats the band is known for in favor of a gentler pop sound that is occasionally reminiscent of old electro and New Wave. New Order vocalist Bernard Sumner even sings on "Out of Control," one of many songs structured more like radio-friendly pop than dance music (other songs feature vocals from Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval, Oasis' Noel Gallagher and Mercury Rev's Jonathan Donahue). The standout track, though, is classic ambient techno; "The Sunshine Underground" is a gorgeous, swirling, shimmery anthem that builds in speed an urgency without sacrificing its beauty. A few shrill, atonal effects occasionally shatter the bliss, but soon after the shards of melody coalesce again into an even lovelier pattern. (MG)

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From the June 21, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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