You Should Be at Home Here
(Brown Records)

Carissa's Wierd is a sleeping beauty whispering into your ear while you dream. Their songs are secrets kept hidden by violins and fractured voices, and the players in CW seem so fragile, you can understand why they scribbled out all the lyrics in the liner notes of their new record, You Should Be at Home Here. More developed than their four-tracked debut, Ugly But Honest, YSBAHH is one of those albums that goes down like thick milk and lands in the bottom of your stomach in a pile of tragedy. With a new depth of tasteful dynamics lent by violinist Sarah Standard, drummer Ben Bridwell, and accordionist Jeff Hellis, CW has become even more powerful and depressing. Of course, vocalists Mat and Jenn (Ghetto, who also has a wonderful solo record called Sadstyle under the moniker "S") do much of the emotional conveying--Mat's voice always sounds like he's about to fall apart, and Jenn's rises up like teary redemption. This is an album to know like you would a lover. JULIANNE SHEPHERD

No Categories Vol. 4
(Ubiquity Records)

In this postmodern age, musical genres seem to diverge, and again cross paths, an infinite number of times. Let No Categories 4 escort you into this brave new world. The collection kicks in with Greyboy's aptly titled "Master the Art," which drops a damn funky beat and shuffles through hip-hop samples, heavy vibraphones, a sitar solo, and an accordion lead! Ubiquity also drew upon their sub-label, CuBop, to include many contemporary, Bay Area Latin jazz originals, as well as a few notables such as Japanese nujazz trio United Future Organization and broken-beat pioneer Alex Attias (aka Beatless). Truth be told, this review could fill the space of three, simply trying to touch upon the "kinds" of music contained within the two disc set. Instead, let me paraphrase: the collection compounds some of the most innovative music on this coast, and consequently, is essential. ELLIOTT ADAMS

You Should Know By Now


For fifteen years, underground darling Barbara Manning has been crafting small gems of folk-pop wonder. Solo or with SF Seals, Manning has shown impeccable, transformative taste in covers, and a capacity for great songwriting. Along the way, she has established a plainspoken voice, struggling for hard-won decency, and respect in the face of romantic frustrations. Her latest album continues in the same vein, with an urgent bounce and Manning's hallmark lyrical acuity, and gentle insights. Opening with the fierce jangle of "Don't Neglect Yourself," the album flies by with a shifting blend of confessions, homilies, and second thoughts. NATE LIPPENS