**** Wonderfullicious!
Pretty Much Good
** Not So Hot
Total Crap

TOULOUSE New Points New Lines

This album makes my nipples hard. Yeah, I know, such a lewd statement coming from such a proper young lady, but check your sweet titties, regardless of your gender, when you listen to Toulouse's newest. With inquisitive, smoky songs driven by alarm-like guitars, funky bass, and slightly bored vocals in the new wave tradition, Toulouse is very, deliciously, so 20 years ago. Granted, it is completely derivative of The Minutemen and Josef K, but at this point, I don't care--Toulouse is good enough to pull it off without completely annoying the shit out of me, at least for now. One thing to clarify: past Toulouse (the Chicago/Boston Toulouse, not the Montreal one from the mid-'70s) fans will find they've changed their sound quite drastically, and there is no shoegazing on New Points New Lines. Just art-trashy drumming and bass influenced by funk and soul. It's not mind-blowing, but it defines slinkster cool. JULIANNE SHEPHERD

Looking for the Perfect Beat 1980-1985
(Tommy Boy)

A must-own for hip hop fans, this compiles 11 of Bambaataa's greatest sides onto a single CD. Starting off with both versions of "Zulu Nation Throwdown" (by the Zulu Nation Cosmic Force and Zulu Nation Soul Sonic Force, respectively), one can hear the origins of contemporary party rap like the Jurassic 5 and Jedi Mind Tricks. The real gold here is, of course, the Arthur Baker epics "Renegades of Funk," "Frantic Situation," "Looking for the Perfect Beat," and the seminal Kraftwerk-meets-the Bronx bass workout "Planet Rock." Featured MCs include Melle Mel, James Brown, and a little-known lady with "rhymes galore" named Lisa Lee. The grandaddy of Miami bass, Detroit techno, and underground hip-hop, Bam continues to reign supreme. "What's the name of this nation? Zulu! Zulu!" MURRAY CIZON

Empty Space

I'm not sure if there's a better way to start an album than with drumsticks counting off the beat. There's just something inviting about it. So, from the get-go, I was ready to like this record, the first outing of Demi-Dryer, which is essentially a stripped-down version of local mainstays Dryer. What follows the very simple beginning is an album complex in its execution. Demi-Dryer play swampy country bluesrock, if that is in fact a legitimate description. You can almost hear guitarist Chris Beeson stamping the dust off his boots as he rolls off his licks, and you want to pour Rachel Browning a nice drink to reward her rich, deep vocals. From the traditional equation of the land with affairs of the heart in "Devil's Lake" to the way they amble through "Undone" and round out the disc--Demi-Dryer have laid down an honest music experience, unconcerned with the fashions of the day and thus all the more true. JAMIE S. RICH