They Make Beer Commercials Like This EP

(Arena Rock Recording Co.)


This new six-song EP from Seattle's Minus the Bear is both a continuation of and an improvement on their debut full-length, Highly Refined Pirates. Like its predecessor, Beer Commercials is marked by complex rhythms and time signature shifts that would make most rock bands quiver, alongside rocking resolves that make the fancy math feel like an afterthought. The improvement lies in the vocal work, which seems to sit a good deal higher in the mix than on past MTB releases. As a result, these seemingly complex songs with hard rocking climaxes also swoon with a blunt romanticism--crafting an excellent, concise piece of work. SEAN NELSON


Bicycles & Tricycles



One senses that Dr. Alex Paterson's raison d'etre since he launched the Orb has been to make music that enhances his (and your) THC buzz or LSD trip. As motivating forces go, that's as fine as any. For the Orb, it's resulted in at least a few classic stoner albums, including their 1991 debut Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld and 1992's U.F.Orb.. Bicycles & Tricycles is better than it has any right to be. The Orb slyly smudge dub, house, techno, ambient, and broken beat to their own peculiarly charming aims. "Aftermath" even features female MC Soom-T (last heard on T.Raumschmiere's Radio Blackout) spitting over a Four Tet-like folk-hop backing. The disc peaks in the last four tracks, moving from epic schaffel techno to ominous WordSound-style dub to warped gamelan to Kompakt-esque pop ambient--just for the sheer hell of it. DAVE SEGAL


Bebel Gilberto

(Six Degrees)


Bebel Gilberto's debut Tanto Tempo (2000) was produced by Suba (a Yugoslavian expatriate who died in a San Paulo fire just before completing Gilberto's CD). Her new CD, Bebel Gilberto, is produced by Marius de Vries, a brilliant programmer who has worked on all of Bj-rk's solo CDs. As a whole, Tanto Tempo was a messy and overenthusiastic experiment that blended old Brazilian samba with new European electronica. Bebel Gilberto, on the other hand, is not dazzled by electronic wizardry; it is much quieter, more sensitive, and beautiful. The excitement of Tanto is gone, the party is over, and all that is left to express is the warmth of being alone. One other thing: Bebel Gilberto has more English songs than its predecessor. This is not entirely a bad thing, but, all in all, English is not as sexy as Portuguese. It's hard to be breathy in English (a language that's great for the production of ideas and the deployment of concepts), whereas with Portuguese (a language that is great for the purposes of seduction) breath is liberated as if by an opened window. CHARLES MUDEDE

**** Nerds

*** Dorks

** Geeks

* Dweebs