Quick Hits(4)

December 1, 2003

Spooky Actions, Music of Webern Arranged for Jazz Quartet. Arranged by guitarist Bruce Arnold, these ten compositions (and nine improvisations derived from them) present an intriguing and very original “jazz” take on the music of serialist composer Anton Webern. It may not swing, but it does mean something—and Arnold’s inventive, processed guitar tones propel this Downtown New York improv meets European classical into the interest zone. Muse Eek. —BC

Fuel, Natural Selection. These 12 new songs from Pennsylvania rockers Fuel prove that monstrously distorted, detuned guitars, when run through enough equalization and compression, can be smoothed out to the point where they sound little more threatening than the average string patch on a synthesizer. This may or may not be a good thing. You decide. Epic. —JG

David Bowie, Reality. I love David Bowie almost more than I love myself, but someone has to quit calling each new record “a return to form.” Truthfully, Davey, you’re on a mission I never thought you’d embrace—channeling boredom. Columbia. —MM

Danny Click
, Elvis the Dog. Click is a fine slide guitarist with a great voice, who expresses some deep and obviously heartfelt emotions on this engaging collection of songs. Lots of artists try to do the same thing, but Click gets into the heart of the matter with such honesty and passion that even the album’s instrumental title track can make you want reach up to dog heaven to give “Elvis” a little pat on his head. DogStar. —AT

Hey Mercedes, Loses Control. Energetic, poppy punk propels this emotive sophomore effort. Look for ’em on the Billboard charts, ’cause that’s where they’re headed. Vagrant. —EF

Marshall Crenshaw
, What’s in the Bag?. Though chockablock with thoughtful lyrics and mature songwriting, the gorgeous guitar tones and arrangements alone make this CD of interest to serious players. Clever covers of Prince’s “Take Me With U” and Bootsy’s “I’d Rather Be With You” ice this tasty cake. Razor & Tie. —BC

The Handsome Family, Singing Bones. The Handsome Family (Brett and Rennie Sparks) create haunting, minimalist country music. Their tales of loneliness and death are gently nestled with beds of pedal steel and undulating tremolo. Moving stuff for sure. Carrot Top. —DF

Leaves, Breathe. Iceland is kicking ass! Sigur Ros and the Leaves have produced some of the most gorgeously ambient—and impassioned—music of this year. Reboot your guitar tactics with a listen. Dreamworks. —MM  

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