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Buffett, Iguanas, Soul Coughing come out with new albums

By Joel Rosenberg
Staff Reporter

Looking for something new to listen to? Here are a few relatively new CDs (some more so than others) to check out next time you're browsing Newbury in Comics. If you want to check for yourself, all of these bands have World Wide Web pages. Start at the Ultimate Band List (http://www.ubl.com) as a general rule.

Medeski Martin and Wood: Shack-man

You might be getting sick of my saying it, but these guys are not to be missed. They just came out with their fourth album called Shack-man a couple of weeks ago, and it's pretty damn good. MMW went down to their Hawaiian hideaway to put it together and produced their most tuneful collection yet.

Their musicianship is unbelievable. This isn't a random collection of guys who decided to form a band. Each one is a virtuoso at he does, and it makes for amazing music to relax to, to study to, to dance to, or whatever.

"Bubblehouse" is an awesome build-'til-you-drop song that is even more amazing live. "Henduck" starts experimentally but develops an amazing coherence. And "Jelly Belly" is as good a funk groove as I've heard in a while. Check out the album and try to see them at the Somerville Theater this Sunday, 8p.m. Call Ticketmaster (931-2000) to get tickets. It will be dollars well spent.

They Might Be Giants: Factory Showroom

If you've never heard TMBG, you're missing a valuable musical niche in your life only they can fill. Nobody else can pull off such catchy tunes with such intelligent lyrics and playfully experimental music.

The new album, Factory Showroom, holds true to what the Johns have given us before. They've added a band, along with full horns and strings on certain selections, and it sounds great. The topics for the songs range from recreational beach treasure hunting in "Metal Detector" to 11th President of the United States "James K. Polk" (factually accurate, of course) to a fictitious rivalry between '80s rock icons "XTC vs. Adam Ant." The song "New York City" deserves to rank right up there with Sinatra or Bernstein in the I LOVE NY propaganda department.

In keeping with their wacky avant-garde shtick ("Fingertips" off of Apollo 18, " Minimum Wage" on Flood), for this outing they recorded "I Can Hear You" at the Edison Historic Site in West Orange, NJ on an Edison war cylinder recorder. You'll know why people love TMBG when you hear it.

Jimmy Buffett: Christmas Island

If this was the first album by Jimmy Buffett you listened to, you'd probably never listen to him again. Jimmy was born on Christmas day and probably did this album out of sentimentality - certainly a mistake. A collection of Christmas covers like "Jingle Bells" and "I'll Be Home For Christmas" are mixed with new songs like "Merry Christmas, Alabama" and "Ho Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rhum." They've got the classic Jimmy sound to them, which moves you from snowy mountains to the calming Caribbean.

Still, it's questionable whether Jimmy should be following up Banana Wind with something so poor - shaken faith needs no further shaking. Even so, the album is a nice change from more traditional christmas albums, and "Mele Kalikimaka" is particularly pleasant. If you are unfamiliar with Jimmy, I recommend Songs You Know By Heart before making the leap to this. But if you're already a fan, you shouldn't have a problem enjoying these holiday favorites.

Soul Coughing: Irresistible Bliss

These guys rocked Tech last spring, and they've got the album to prove it. Their sound is pretty intense, even on slower tunes, and even the slow tunes build to reveal a deep-rooted anger that is strangely appealing. The title of the album, Irresistible Bliss, summarizes that fact. The anger sounds Nirvana-inspired - mean but still friendly.

The opener "Super Bon Bon" sounds like a funked up rap/rock with a mild melody. There's no choice but to bop your head. Some tunes are more fun than others, like "Disseminated," which uses a melody similar to a sampled cartoon theme. They sound tight but still experiment a bit, messing around with feels and rhythms.

The Iguanas: Superball

From Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville label comes The Iguanas and their latest CD, Superball. Their Tex-Mex/R&B/rock groove sound from New Orleans should be a staple in anyone's dance collection. The album has something for everyone. "Lupita" should have gained Macarena-level popularity without the associated cheese and in a more perfect world would be on the set list of any decent party. "Don't Blame Me" sounds almost like country but is kept from that categorization by a Texican twang. And there's no resisting the Spanish serenades with a rock feel. Definitely worth checking out if you're from the Southwest or just like good music.

Copyright 19,95, The Tech. All rights reserved.
This story was published on Tuesday.
Volume 116, Number 54.
This story appeared on page 7.

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