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Music Picks

[whitespace] Picks by Brandon Barber and Andrew Shriver

Californication

Californication
Red Hot Chili Peppers
Warner Records

From the opening fuzz of "All Around the World" to the soul-searching of "Otherside," the Chili Peppers sound relaxed, wiser and like they're having the time of their lives on Californication. This foray into cock-and-roll sees the band doing what they do best: mixing funk, rock, rap and sexually charged lyrics into that classic Peppers sound. With the return of John Frusciante, a major contributor to the '91 multi-platinum BloodSugarSexMagik, the Peppers sound like a band again. Through the cool casualness of "Road Trippin" and the melodic interplay of "Scar Tissue," the Peppers expose themselves to the masses. When the votes are tallied, Californication might just be the rebound album of 1999. Not bad for a band that never really went away. (AS)


The Soft Bulletin

The Soft Bulletin
The Flaming Lips
Warner Records

After 1997's Zaireeka, a four-CD set engineered to be played simultaneously, and 1998's "Boombox Experiment," a live orchestra composed for 40 automobile tape decks, it seemed as if the Flaming Lips had successfully cleansed themselves of all convention and settled happily into bemused obscurity. As much as this idea might have pleased the band, The Soft Bulletin, their latest release, drags them forcibly back to accessibility's open arms. The edges seem to be smoothed on lead man Wayne Coyne's trademark irony, and his strained, snaking vocals cut through the din like a blade. Stand-out tracks like "A Spoonful Weighs a Ton" and "The Spiderbite Song" bend charmingly through soundscapes that make you wish you'd dropped the extra dough on that really expensive set of headphones. (BB)


What Are You Going to Do With Your Life?

What Are You Going to Do With Your Life?
Echo and the Bunnymen
Wea/Sire Records

Echo and the Bunnymen have done what few comeback bands can do; they've put out an album so wonderfully rich in textures and songwriting prowess that even the staunchest early fan will be won over. The title track sets the stage for a majestic head trip conducted by the ever-ominous songster Ian McCulloch. McCulloch's voice resonates with passion and honesty, melding perfectly with the lush string arrangements throughout. "Get in the Car" showcases the Bunnymen getting loose and groovy with some help from the Fun Loving Criminals. Most importantly, the beauty of this album lies in its heartfelt simplicity. What Are You Going to Do With Your Life? is an album for romantics of every age. (AS)

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From the July 19, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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