**** Brawny Towel Man
*** Wilford Brimley
** Tom Sellick
* John Waters

The King Beneath the Mountain
(Strange Attractors Audio House)

After hearing the first track of this CD, I had very high hopes. Electronic, melodic sounds come swimming in, increasing in bravado and sounding a bit like a prelude to a song that would be played in a new-age church, on an organ. Guitar is plucked ominously, promising great things to come. All good so far, I thought, and I waited for the explosion of faster, more sophisticated music that seemed inevitable. It never came. Though the chords change a little, and the vocals are eventually there--soft and foreboding and pregnant, the song never really rocks out--instead the guy singing just keeps repeating the line, "The open sea/the open sea/the open sea." Still, the song's not that bad. It just never quite reaches its potential. The rest of the CD is similarly anti-climactic, but worth a listen. Hmm. KATIA DUNN

The Ends Against The Middle

(Warp Records)

This is where hiphop started: in fantasy. Hiphop was not about the dissemination of important social messages, but an escape from the hard world. This is why early rappers said the most outrageous things about their status and means. They boasted about money they didn't have, color TVs they never owned, brand new Cadillacs and Lincoln Continentals they couldn't afford, because banks and credit cards wouldn't loan them "more money than a sucker could ever spend." Hiphop was once the realm of the imagination, and Anti-Pop Consortium's main project is to sustain this dream realm, with artificially intelligent raps and starship beats. Despite all of the rapid poetry and fancy sounds (fancy in the medieval, numinous sense of the word) nothing on this CD comes from the outside, but from deep within the hiphop dream machine. CHARLES MUDEDE


(5 Rue Christine)

The record label 5 Rue Christine is trustworthy because every one of their releases has some unique quality that separates them from the infinite land of typicality in music. After all, the first tenet of their "rules" section reads, "5RC gambles in inspiration. It throws out ideas engineered to provoke you. We can't help you understand how they make you feel. We are not here to aid or entertain you, but try to rifle out some kind of reaction." Therefore, I would expect something a little less cookie-cutter than NYC's The Seconds. While they are a good band, pared-down and primal with their tight dance beats, some excellent rock guitar riffs, and the loose-lipped punk sassiness of their vocalist, The Seconds just aren't innovating like the rest of the 5RC roster. They have some energetic moments--the Young Marble Giants minimalism of track five, etc.--and they are probably a great live band. It just doesn't really elicit enthusiasm. JULIANNE SHEPHERD