Secondary Protocol
(Stones Throw)
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With half the tracks produced by the genius Madlib and the other half by his talented brother Oh No, Wildchild's debut, Secondary Protocol, is, as anyone familiar with the Lootpack and Stones Throw Records would expect, a work of competent hiphop. In fact, Secondary Protocol may best be described as the follow-up to the CD that helped inaugurate the rise and dominance of L.A.'s underground hiphop scene in 1998, Lootpack's Soundpieces: Da Antidote!. But Soundpieces is amazing, whereas Secondary Protocol, which has only one track that clearly breaks new ground--Madlib's intensely haunting "Hands Up"--gets the job done. The raps are fresh, the production is full, and the guests (the usual underground suspects--Tha Liks, Planet Asia, Aceyalone, Vinia Mojica) do what they always do well: showcase their skills. But ultimately, the real function of Secondary Protocol is this: It offers some relief to those who, like me, are waiting impatiently for the arrival of Madlib's collaborations with MF Doom and Jay Dee. CHARLES MUDEDE

A Big One
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With a vocal style that causes him to shake his voice like Katherine Hepburn, Condor's Kurt Keppler leads his trio into a vortex of robotic no wave punk, with his synthesizer laying down beats like cyborg footfalls. Explosions of echoing sound blast behind him, as Joshua Richardson's bass is barely audible under a force field of effects and drummer Wendy Farina's concise blows. Songs like "Delay" live up to their name, elongating the wall of sound while lyrics about "doom before the dawn" trickle in, while "Sound of Mystery" is pure psychedelic goth gloom. Listening to A Big One, the San Francisco band's new record, it's easy to hear that Wire's Pink Flag has taken another victim, and that Bay Area act Numbers have a distant peer in this ominous, elegant act. JENNIFER MAERZ

The Complete Works, Volume 1
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This collects 24 tracks from Spiritualized's halcyon daze (1990-93), when "Good Dope/Good Fun" wasn't merely a song title, but a way of life for the British space rockers. This double CD contains some repetition (apt, for a band whose music relies so heavily on it), e.g., four versions of the colossal symphony of desolation, "Feel So Sad." Likewise, some songs can be found on Spiritualized's first two albums, but many have been unavailable for years, including the debut single "Anyway That You Want Me," a swaying, carefree cover of a 1966 Troggs hit. And I won't bitch about the two versions of the supremely hypnotic "Electric Mainline." This retrospective reminds us how intensely Spiritualized leader Jason Pierce, fresh out of Spacemen 3, could manifest his holy/hallucinogenic vision to the excessively minimalist max. DAVE SEGAL

* * * * Captain & Tennielle
* * * Captain Morgan
* * Captain America
* Captain Kirk