Lots of Love
A3, Exile on Coldharbour Lane (Geffen 1997) - A3 (known in their U.K. homeland as "Alabama 3") are hard to draw a bead on. Part Southern roots, part acid honky-tonk, part gospel, A3 (who sport up to twenty persons on stage for a live show) defy easy description.
And that's the sign of a breakthrough artist. A3 mixes acid house and techno with roots and blues to produce a unique sound; some call it the first "theme" techno album.
It all comes down to love, as the band is spearheaded by Larry Love and the Very Reverend Dr. D. Wayne Love. Concerning themselves with false prophets and super lager, the group serves a heady mix of country blues and techno/acid house beats.
Drawing deeply on Southern roots and delta blues, Exile on Coldharbour Lane (patterned on the Stones' 1972 classic, Exile on Main Street) is a seamless whole. While certain songs rise up (including "U Don't Dans 2 Tekno Anymore" and "Mao Tse Tung Said"), the album is a complete work, with a laid-back yet fresh sound.
There's no easy way to describe A3; the group has a sweeping vision, beyond any contemporary radio formats. Geffen's A & R department likes to take a chance on innovative new artists (including the much-heralded Beck), and A3 should feel right at home. Don't miss Exile on Coldharbour Lane (a two-CD set, which includes a disk of instrumental remixes).
Luna, Pup Tent (Elektra 1997) - I'll admit - I worked hard at this album. I kept it on my "listen again" list for a couple of months before it finally sunk in.
But now, I dig it. With their fourth release, Luna presents a guitar/techno release that is filled with textural complexities, yet retaining a lightness of touch and offhand delivery. (I can't explain the gunslinger artwork, because there's no western theme to the album).
Luna consists of Sean Eden on guitars, Justin Harwood on bass, keyboards, guitars and trumpet, new drummer Lee Wall (who replaces Stanley Demeski), and Dean Wareham (formerly of Galaxy 500) on vocals and guitars. Pup Tent was recorded in New York City and Cannon Falls, Minnesota, and was produced by Pat McCarthy (who has also worked with R. E. M. and the Butthole Surfers).
Pup Tent delivers a dense, multi-layered feeling, where singer Wareham's hyper-distilled lyrics combine surreal puns, fractured perspectives, jittery paranoia, and dry-as-dust irony in a few deft words. Thus, songs like "Bobby Peru" and "Beggar's Bliss" move along effortlessly, while developing a seamless feel. (Though the second half of the album slows down.)
Pup Tent may not have the grandiose designs of Exile on Coldharbour Lane, but it has a great ambiance.
Edwyn Collins, I'm Not Following You (Epic 1997) - Edwyn Collins was kicking around college and alternative music circles for more than a decade before he found success with Gorgeous George (1995). With the followup, I'm Not Following You, Collins continues down his eccentric path.
Collins (who formerly recorded on the Continent with Orange Juice) combines 60's pop with 90's overdubs and sampling. With his fluid voice (which resembles David Bowie on such cuts as "No One Waived Good-bye") Collins is an accomplished studio veteran. Alternative/college fans will enjoy I'm Not Following You.
-- Randy Krbechek
Copyright (c) Randy Krbechek
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