STEPHEN MALKMUS
Face the Truth
(Matador)
***

There's almost no sense reviewing Stephen Malkmus' solo records anymore. Ever since his beloved Pavement disbanded at the turn of the century, his albums have only become significantly weirder and looser and more self-satisfying than anything he did in the 10 years before. So then, the inevitable question surrounding Face the Truth begins: Just how weird is it? Well, more than you'd think. There's only one straight-shooter here (it's called "Freeze the Saints" and, in a Neil Young sort of way, it's stunning), but the rest of Face the Truth sounds exactly like the sum of its parts: A man nearing middle age, in his basement, with, presumably, lots of grass, making the best record both Aphex Twin ("Kindling for the Master") and the Grateful Dead ("It Kills") never got around to. A classic LP, it is not. But, then again, maybe that's the intent. TREVOR KELLEY

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks play Friday June 17 at Crystal Ballroom, 1332 W Burnside

BILLY CORGAN
The Future Embrace
(Reprise)
**1/2

Piping through my headphones for the better part of an afternoon, it took me roughly four full listens to actually register any discernible element of the inoffensive wash that is The Future Embrace--a languid response that doesn't particularly bode well for former Zwan frontman Billy Corgan's latest foray into the world of ego cultivation. Neither does the fact that the best song on the album is a Bee Gees cover. Still, what's particularly surprising is that the record, even in its blandness, doesn't even deliver the trainwreck most of us were rooting for. For point of reference, I turned to the Smashing Pumpkins' much-maligned 1998 opus Adore--a record with which The Future Embrace shares striking similarities--and much to no one's surprise, found that I'd really rather just relive Corgan's (fading) glory days than vain attempts to recreate them. ZP

APOSTLE OF HUSTLE
Folkloric Feel
(Arts + Crafts)
***

First off, the name "Apostle of Hustle" is a little deceptive. (I imagine a buncha suits with greaser pomps Ian Svenonious-ing themselves into irrelevancy). The album title's not much better. (Visions of Devendra, Joanna Newsom darning with the milk-eyed mender, etc.) What's really going on is a nice mix of acoustic guitars, Cuban rhythms, and electronics. Fronted by Andrew Whiteman from Broken Social Scene, Apostle of Hustle pulls off what Beth Orton has always tried to do--combine the intimacy of acoustic guitars with technology. This is a lot more original--sometimes delicate, tinkling and glacial, sometimes upbeat and almost Tortoise. ADAM GNADE

Apostle of Hustle play Sunday June 19 at Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside, 9 pm, $10

**** The Joker
*** Catwoman
** Scarecrow
* Eggman, Two-Face, The Riddler, The Pengiun, etc.