Kish Kash



In the first two minutes, showcasing a positively euphoric vocal track from The Bellrays' Lisa Kekaula, Kish Kash reaches a top-of-the-mountain elation matched only by other steelhardy dance numbers: M. Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Something," Bjork's "Hyperballad." You could listen to it forever--Kekaula's searing diva croon telling off a wayward beau; unleashing a tidal wave of synths and split-apart backing vocals, Basement Jaxx has got her back like sisters--but the British production duo's latest release is so consistent, propelling through 14 tracks of like, brain-boggling (and emotionally resonant) dance numbers. The boys in Jaxx know their soloists, swiping vox from Dizzee Rascal and even N*SYNC's JC Chasez, whose aching, Drakkar Noir falsetto gets the elevator shoe from the Jaxx's funky, chunky synth low-end. Siouxsie Sioux weighs in like Peaches (the original goth diva actually begins her song with the line, "Yo, yo, yo!") but her vibrato is palpable (Tracy & the Plastics!). Kish Kash is dense enough for dancefloor thinkers, and even in its ponderous parts sounds utterly ecstatic. JULIANNE SHEPHERD


Opportunity Bless My Soul

(Version City Records)


Stephen Trask, watch out for Cody Critcheloe. Wacky, trashy, and enigmatic, the singer for Kansas City's Ssion (pronounced like "passion" without the "pa") evokes the glory days of trashvestite culture. Opportunity Bless My Soul is a concept album chronicling the rise of an animal band whose rockstar success turns them into giant yuppies, essentially. Critcheloe practically out-divas Karen O (and designed her album cover art), vamping over gritty guitars, weird drum machines turned up too high, catchy synths, and a chorus of girls getting higher than the B-52s. It seems like it should be piecemeal, but it fits together like a collage. While other cheeky humorists get derailed by track two (um, Gravy Train!!!), Ssion transcends being of our time with smart lyrics in lieu of irony or even self-awareness--they're simply "majoring in 'fuck you.'" JS


Rock N Roll

(Lost Highway)


Alt-country's enfant terrible has gone and done it this time: Ryan Adams recorded the rock album he has been threatening to make since his Whiskeytown days. And it's not a little bit country and a little bit rock n' roll--it's an all-out, guitars cranked, sexy, drunken rock record. Rock n Roll is a far cry from his solo debut, the gorgeously acoustic strum bummer Heartbreaker, but it's just as good in its own way. Ryan's voice is hoarse and raw--a little bit Paul Westerberg and a little bit morning-after scream therapy. Aesthetically it sounds damn convincingÉ Adams delivers the tears with a sneer and roughs up the joy with bruises. NATE LIPPENS

**** King Size Candy Bars

*** Candy Corn

** Miniature Box of SunMaid Raisins

* Bible Tracts, Tooth Brushes, Roll of Pennies