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Picks by Christine Brenneman and Andrew Shriver

Social Dancing

Social Dancing
Grand Royal

Bis' Social Dancing--the long-awaited follow-up to their critically acclaimed debut, The New Transistor Heroes--expands on this quirky trio's signature energy and irresistibility. Just imagine the musical equivalent of Pop Rocks candy and you get the idea. This CD tickles the listener with sickly sweet melodies that become unshakable with repeated listening. "Making People Normal" kick-starts the album with drum machines, synths and a cleverly catchy guitar line. The Duran Duran-tinged "Eurodisco" is destined to be a club favorite. "Detour," however, shows that Bis isn't afraid to do a song with a tempo other than 120 bpm; it features spooky, reverb-soaked guitar and guest vocals by indie icon Lois. Dancing gives a wink to the '80s, techno, punk and disco. (AS)

Live at MOCA

Live at MOCA
Bobby Matos and the Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble
Cubop Records

It's undeniable: Latin music is sweeping the continent. There's mainstream Latin music and then there's the real deal. Bobby Matos and the Afro Latin Jazz Ensemble prove they are the real deal on their latest album, Live at MOCA. Recorded live at Los Angeles' Museum of Contemporary Art, this album blends reworkings of earlier gems with new tracks and showcases just how brilliant and accomplished this band is. It's easy to see why Bobby was voted "Best Latin/Salsa Artist 1999" by the LA Weekly, beating out such luminaries as Poncho Sanchez and Johnny Pacheco. There isn't a song that outshines the others here; the album works as a whole to set a mood appreciated by connoisseurs of finely aged jazz and newbies alike. (AS)


Méshell Ndegéocello
Maverick Records

Grooving along at a soulful and soothing pace, Meshell Ndegéocello's third album, Bitter, is pure aural delight. Mellowness rules supreme here; even with seemingly heavy-handed song titles like "Faithful," "Loyalty" and "Grace," Ndegéocello lets the simple orchestrations carry the listener through songs about love and redemption. The whispery, restrained intensity of her voice takes center stage throughout, leaving her signature bass somewhat understated. Lovely string arrangemanets show up on several tracks, and her positively delicious version of Hendrix's "May This Be Love" offers a fresh perspective on the classic tune. Although some may compare her to Tracy Chapman, Ndegéocello achieves a purer form of honesty without the commercial aspirations. (CB)

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From the August 30, 1999, 1999 issue of the Metropolitan.

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