In This Way They Found Me
(Panther Fact)

I'd like to extend congratulations to The Prom for making the perfect '70s adult contemporary album. Unfortunately, if Bruno from Fame never found a permanent career in music with the same formula, it'd probably be advisable to stay away from it, right?

But I can't hate this album. The last track, entitled "The South House," is a disturbed, improv version of the chorus from "Sister Christian" by Night Ranger. It's sung mostly off-key, with hammering pianos, and huge, rocker drums. "Motorin'. What's your price for flight?" Fuck yeah, The Prom!

The rest of the CD is too Ben Folds Five for my liking, a Billy Joel-derivative ensemble of decently written songs that hardly venture anywhere, except for in two or three other standout tunes (tracks two, eight, and nine, in case you want to program). And all passion for "Sister Christian" aside, "The South House" is the best because it's the only point on the whole album The Prom sounds like it's having fun at all. JULIANNE SHEPHERD

Life I Lead

If proz and conz want to move from the "pretty good, for Portland" ratings to the "goddamn! they're fucking good" level, they've got to focus. Their latest album sounds like a lot of hip-hop, but is so derivative that nothing particularly stands out. Some tracks strain a bit too far towards angry, dark, straight-up rap, while others feature the caramel female voice in the background that's so popular these days to introduce melody into a historically raw beat. This is when they show the most promise, especially on the title track, which relies on an ethereal, scratchy background, complimented by a matching moody rhythm and quick lyrics. Other songs just have pretty stupid lyrics: "I perform oral sex on the melody/Then I fuck the shit out of it." ...Huh? KATIA DUNN

Songs from the Nerve Wheel
(Unit Circle)

No other music benefits and suffers more from pretension than so-called "experimental." Seattle native Bill Horist's music embodies this dichotomy. How all of the sounds on Songs from the Nerve Wheel came from a guitar--jackhammer poundings, sonic screeching, Neubauten-esque beats and wails--I will never know. But, unlike his musical soulmates Fred Frith and Roy Montgomery, Hoist doesn't seem to grasp the need for dynamic range. Yes, there are dynamic changes, but they all tend to blend together after a while--maybe that's his point. However, although Songs from the Nerve Wheel is buried under a lot of ambient baggage, its promise is impossible to deny. MURRAY CIZON