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Metropolitan Music Picks

[whitespace] All reviews by Michelle Goldberg (MG) and Simone Stein (SS)

Eighty Mile Beach
Inclement Weather
Om Records

Inclement Weather is rainy-day music, a hypnotic, forlorn record soaked with jazzy anomie. San Francisco-based Eighty Mile Beach consists of only two people, Beth Custer and Christian Jones, but they use an ensemble's worth of instruments: clarinets, keyboards, trumpets, electric guitars, turntables and samplers. Like Beth Orton, Eighty Mile Beach manages to incorporate trip-hop elements into coffee-shop pop without ever seeming self-consciously trendy. But Eighty Mile Beach isn't as accessible as Orton--its music is much more dense, dissonant and meandering, and on songs like the grating "5 loop," their artsiness is off-putting. Listeners are also advised to ignore the embarrassing freshman poetry lyrics, especially the terribly earnest pro-cannabis "Hempen Homespun," which includes the line "The Nepalese are true hemp revolutionaries." These are minor complaints, though, when considered against the gorgeous, complex melodies, perfect barely there beats and lovely, whispery singing that dominates the album. (SS)

Trumystic Sound System
Product Three
Mutant Sound System

When jungle music first broke through in Britain, it was more than just Uzi-speed breaks and polyrhythms, it was also a contemporary twist on dub reggae. Only with the evolution of "intelligent jungle" did the vocals fade out. Trumystic Sound System's stunning new album brings the music back to its roots, Brooklyn style. Deep, soulful and inventive, Product Three marries the most fascinating elements of turntablism, drum 'n' bass, and world music. The band's three quite different vocalists--rapper Soothsayer, reggae singer Dr. Israel and torchy crooner Divaship--somehow all mesh, and Product Three sounds as cohesive as Massive Attack's Blue Lines, a debut that maintained its narcotized noir vibe despite a host of singers. Soothsayer's ultrachill rhyming may recall the Bristol sound, but the sharp, mechanized beats that creep beneath his voice add another layer of desolation. The standout track is the intensely poignant "Life in the Ghetto," which is so emotionally rich that it just might be the first jungle song to make you cry. (MG)

Various Artists
Unscrubbed 2

It's best not to think of Unscrubbed 2: Live from the Laundromat as an album that anyone would want to listen to from start to finish, at least not more than once. With 25 songs from local unsigned bands that range from the ridiculous to the sublime to sadistically annoying, Unscrubbed 2 is more of a beginners' guide to the local rock scene, a wonderful way to see which San Francisco bands are worth your $5 and weekend nights. The album's songs were recorded at Ian Brennan's Monday-night acoustic music series at the Brainwash Laundromat, but what sounds great in that quirky, convivial atmosphere doesn't always transfer to your living room. On the other hand, there's a hilarious spoken-word piece from Beth Lisick Ordeal about a downtrodden stewardess catering to planeload of bratty Cabo-bound coeds, as well as impressive tracks from Sunshine Club, Chuck Prophet, Barbara Manning with Ralph Carney and Tarnation with Omar Sosa. (SS)

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From the July 27-Aug. 9, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

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