THE FOUR CORNERS
Say You're a Scream
(Kindercore Records)
**

All the obligatory guidelines for the '60s garage rock revival trend are being followed here. For instance, all the pictured members of the Four Corners look relentlessly "Mod." The organ player is not listed as playing "organ" but, of course, "Farfisa." And the album is produced to give that authentic '60s sound and feel. But Say You're a Scream may not be completely lost in the sea of this revival genre. Vocalist and Farfisa-ist Tracy Hatch eschews the expected Iggy-like "CAW-MAWN!" (though her piano skills couldn't dominate a one-fingered amateur). And tracks like "I Say You're a Scream" blend rhythms slightly more complicated than actual '60s rock. Other than that, I can't nail down what makes this group less offensive to me than other bands currently following said guidelines (see: Sympathy for the Record Industry's current roster). I will say this: The Four Corners are not horrible. JOE FAUSTIN KELLY


STEREOLAB

Sound-Dust
(Wea/Elektra)
***

From their early Neu!-inspired, uni-chord jams, to the later dismantling of Bacharach-style orchestral arrangements, Stereolab has always played the part of pop music historians, successfully appropriating whatever influences they saw fit. Since milestone experiments like Emperor Tomato Ketchup and Dots and Loops, however, the groop has become more jumbled and referentially kitsch. Their new full-length travels in plenty of playful directions: "Black Ants in Sound-Dust" is a roving, cinematic journey and "Captain EasyChord" veers into AM Gold country, complete with piano and winsome pedal steel. Sadly, it's the dull consistency of Latetitia Sadier's once nectar-sweet voice that seems to detract the most quickly turning, fresh thematic ideas into rehash. While I would consider this a pop record on par with any I've heard this year, I expect a bit more from these guys. SIMON GASKEN


JAMES TAYLOR QUARTET
Message From the Godfather
(Ubiquity)
****

Message From the Godfather is fucking awesome... early '70s Jack McDuff/ "Groove" Holmes-type, heavily funked... danceable, GROOVIN' Hammond jazz. Now for some, THAT word, "jazz," might be L-O-A-D-E-D, but I basically don't have the patience for "jazz"... it requires too much of a disciplined ear. However, I'm hollerin' for the JTQ 'cause I do dig shit that makes me move, and they got IT. FATHOM: the JTQ swings honest and legitimate, without pretense... they ain't stuffy "music" grads, "old" guys with Coltrane ambitions, hipsters on a misguided retro tangent, or hack job DJs! And Taylor has "cool" pedigree... the JTQ is what Taylor made happen after he split the Prisoners--the Prisoners being the '70s Mod revival's exception... that proves the rule, dig. MIKE NIPPER