Now Hear This 

However, the "metal" moniker might be too generic a term for what Andrew W.K. is doing musically, since his music merges the sounds of eighties-new wave, punk, glam, and heavy metal — forming in the process the best road-trip album of the last few years. Beyond the "party" trilogy ("It's Time To Party", "Party Hard", and "Party til You Puke") the relatively midtempo ode to the Big Apple "I Love NYC," the supersonic "Take It Off," and the furious title track help blow others out of the water in the departments of catchiness, furious presentation and just plain cojones. If you're looking for a record with some sort of underlying social theme, then you're completely out of luck. "I Get Wet" is about forgetting things like a bad day at work, the fact your lover has left you, and that you've run out of money for the week. With abrasive guitars, a driving rhythm section, angry vocals, and in the context of a three-minute anthem format, Andrew W.K.'s debut is the ultimate soundtrack for the working class lifestyle. — Angelo DeFranzo


Lazy Lester "Blues Stop Knockin'" (Antone's) ****

A veteran of the '60s Louisiana swamp-pop days, Lester is still rocking with drawling and lackadaisical aplomb. Produced by Austin guitarist Derek O'Brien, "Stop Knockin'" is a rollicking homage to gut-bucket rock 'n' blues. Lester rolls through 12 cuts here, several written by south Louisiana musicians such as Slim Harpo, Lee Dorsey and J.D. Miller, and while each song could have been recorded in 1966 there is nothing "retro" about Lester's approach. Blowing a plaintive and primal harmonica, Lester raises plenty of sand here and gets a ton of help on guitar courtesy of Jimmie Vaughan, Sue Foley and producer O'Brien. Lester sounds like he's having a good time especially when he's caught on tape telling the producer "you can keep all of that" after a fine take of "Gonna Stick to You Baby." Likewise, his version of Dorsey's '60s hit "Ya Ya" is as much nonsensical fun now as ever. Granted, there's nothing new going on here. But Lester has made a rocking and good-natured record that draws from deep and honorable roots. It just goes to show that when music is made with honesty and integrity, its timeless qualities never lose their appeal. — Ames Arnold


Antipop Consortium "Arrhythmia" (Warp) ****

Despite its title, "Arrhythmia" isn't full of off-time beats, or rhymes that don't rhyme — stuff that appeals mostly to record-store clerks who dabble in theoretical physics. That better describes Antipop Consortium's first album, "Tragic Epilogue."

Their latest packs twice the punch, matching high-concept lyrics with tracks that don't apologize for booming out of your speakers.

On the album's best song, "Dead in Motion," minimal electronic glitches hold the cadence until the wall of bass kicks in, followed by banging drums and washes of synths. Throughout the disc, group members Ball Beans, M. Sayyid and High Priest run through lyrical styles one by one — street storytelling, sci-fi madness, singsongy dance hall — with a forceful delivery that matches producer Earl Blaize's hard-polished tracks.

Flourishes of weirdness only add to the atmosphere, like when "Mega" climbs to a full-on operatic peak straight out of '70s prog rock. "Ping Pong" follows the bouncing ball for rhythmic inspiration, while on "Human Shields," it's the voices that echo back and forth.

With one ear to the street and the other to the stars, "Arrhythmia" brings serious heat from hip-hop's avant squad. — Dave Renard


Jeff Tweedy "Chelsea Walls" (Rykodisc) ***

The dust-up over the sales prospects of Wilco's "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot" is by now well-documented. Quietly released the same day as the much-delayed Wilco disc was front man Jeff Tweedy's "Chelsea Walls" soundtrack, which actually is Tweedy at his most uncommercial.

The disc brings to mind Radiohead's catatonic soundscapes on "Kid A," but it's Radiohead filtered through a flannel work shirt. Tweedy's dreamy melodies are here, but unlike the swirling impressionist paint box of "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," he uses ragged guitar riffs and a buzzing and groaning synth to cut through the beauty. The dream sounds as if it's rotting from the inside out.

That's not for everyone, and neither is the fact that songs are built on a single theme, which grows repetitive when sprawled across a whole disc.

Breaking it up are Billy Bragg and Wilco's shaggy cover of "When the Roses Bloom Again," and "Promising," a Wilco cutout. Jimmy Scott lends a smoky, ethereal touch to a cover of "Jealous Guy," and Robert Sean Leonard's two tracks — one a Wilco cover — fit in with lo-fi feel of the whole project.

It's a worthwhile disc in some respects, if only to see where Tweedy's mind is when he doesn't have to worry about the commerce part of his art. — David M. Putney


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