SUPER FURRY ANIMALS
I remember seeing a clip of Duran Duran in Italy. An arena full of hairy-pitted girls were singing along to "Save A Prayer." Most of them probably didn't know what the specific words meant, but understood what the song was about. It was that pivotal moment when I learned pop music is the answer to unifying the world. The language isn't important as long as you can feel the music.
Super Furry Animals' fourth proper album is sung entirely in their native Welsh. It's a peculiar language, seemingly dominated by odd combinations of consonants. Mwng pushes my pop theory to the extreme. The music isn't pop; it's psychedelia, and a far cry from "The Reflex." For all I know, it may really be a rock opera about the plight of domesticated brine shrimp, but to me, it sounds fab. Mwng would rock in English, Welsh, or Swahili (and frankly, it sounds like Martian). Forget the UN--music is the best umbrella for the world to huddle under. Join the Super Furry Army! JAMIE S. RICH
the moon & antarctica
When I first saw the new Modest Mouse album I was thrilled. But then I saw the label and thought, "Eew, Epic, they're SO NOT INDIE!" Let this be a lesson to all indie snobs who abide by the "No Big Labels" rule: there are always exceptions.
On their new album, Modest Mouse have the advantage of more money and more resources to do even more cool stuff. That's exciting, because their trademark rubbery, hollow vocals and subdued angst benefit from those added resources. Their only consistency is that they keep challenging themselves and producing a sound I can love, no matter what label they're on. KATIA DUNN
My name is Astrid. I am speeding down the road in a sparkling white Karmann Ghia. I have a chartreuse scarf tied around my neck, and I'm nibbling star-shaped cut-outs of White Grape Jell-O (sophisticated, yet fun). I am listening to Tahiti 80. When vocalist Xavier Boyer sings, "Can you feel my heartbeat?" it sounds like "Can you feel my HOT BED?" because of his accent. It is surprisingly unannoying. His pastel, resin-tinged tenor fills the night with un tremble fantastique. Even how he sings "you're a butterfly" partially through his nostrils is hopelessly cosmopolitan. I bat my eyes. The guitars coat the balmy air with a high-gloss paint. The bass purrs with the wheels on my car. Goddamn. I love French New Yorkers. JULIANNE SHEPHERD