Amore Del Tropico
(Touch And Go)
Amore Del Tropico, or "How to Go From the Funeral Procession to the Congo Line in Three Easy Steps," is the work of a band in some major transition. The record, a start-to-finish concept album, tackles a murder mystery all Colombo-style, complete with ex-lovers knocking each other off, and a song all about fingerprints. While BHP still uses a slew of over-talented musicians battling it out with "traditional" instruments, Amore also features some restrained dabbling in electronic beats and some Latin Flavor. Yes, I said "Latin Flavor." While it's no "Mambo #5," Amore shows BHP ditching the funeral parlor house band routine and heading off in a totally bizarre, yet pleasing new direction. Old Black Heart Procession provided the ideal dirge to drink to and drown your sorrows in. Amore also goes great with alcohol; just be sure your drink has an umbrella in it. CARMELO MARTINEZ

S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D.

The one problem with S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D., Out Hud's first record in two years, is that it plays like the "Extended Dance Remix" B-side of a 12-inch record--perfect for mixing, and great for throwing on at your friendly discotheque, but these instrumentals are a little long if you desire a solo session of deep listening. However, the best thing about Extended Dance Remixes is their abundance of scorching beats, thick production, and melodies that don't sing so much as set a mood--and S.T.R.E.E.T. D.A.D. has all those things in maximum overdrive. Out Hud's kept with the times and filled in their sound, but haven't melted into crappy "Check Out My Art of Noise Hairdo"-style trends, warming cold electro and spacious hiphop beats with funky bass, percussive cello, echoed guitar, and the occasional acidic synth dropping jolts of neon lightning onto your jingling ass. It's midtempo, and it's got more futuristic funk than a Dagwood sandwich, so if you don't dance to this, you are D.E.A.D. M.E.A.T. JULIANNE SHEPHERD

Writers Without Homes

Piano Magic wraps its music around you like a charmed blanket in a dream. Soft and twinkly and filled with mythology, the London-based quartet delves deep into guitar, toy pianos, glockenspiel, theremin, violins, vocals, booming drums, and field recordings to create a minimally beautiful second album. Certain songs beam sweetly; on "Dutch Housing," a childlike guest vocalist sings delicately in French. At other points, a bittersweet, windy loneliness looms, and a voice taunts from the shadows: "Music won't save you from anything but silence/not from heartbreak/not from violence." That's bad news, but after sinking into the cushions of Piano Magic's plaintive opulence, the validity of that lyric is null and void. JS

****There's No "I" In "Team"
***Hang In There
**Is It Friday Yet?
*I Don't Do Mondays