By Jacob Katel
By Laurie Charles
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Abel Folgar
By Kat Bein
By Jacob Katel
By j. poet
Count Bass D
With other rappers "trying to be 3Pac and Spice 2/What's an original MC to do?" Count Bass D wonders on his debut, Pre-Life Crisis. Answer: Exactly what Count does here A scoop up new flavors without regard to what the rest are serving. Hence, he comes up with one of the more lyrically inventive and musically developed menus in recent memory, a poppy hip-hop treat that takes notes from Biz Markie's dictionary of cultural references and trades in Arrested Development's live, southern-fried grooves.
Count understands that his Nashville home base would be enough to turn any hardcore pretensions into Opry-land farce, so he steers clear of such poses. He's just a guy who admits he's as friendly as Captain Stubing, who values his years in Sunday school, and who's not cool enough to hide from us his enthusiasm for Carmex lip balm or his crush on T-Boz from TLC. He plays the dozens and the Name Game with equal relish, then slips bits of "Fräre Jacques" and "Rosanna" into his singsong patter; and all the while he trips through laid-back verses like a top-flight Bronx battler.
What's more, Count constructs a solid mellow funk sound with his own bass, drums, and piano playing, abetted by Mark Nash's smooth guitar work. Tracks such as "Broke Thursday," "Agriculture," and "Sandwiches" are at least as song-oriented as Basehead ditties, and more true to hip-hop. With humor his top priority, Count Bass D's Pre-Life Crisis sounds more like the time of his life.
A Roni Sarig
That Lucid Feeling
Twenty-five years after Lou Reed split from the band (rendering the aggregate that carried on without him for a while afterward somewhat pointless), the Velvet Underground continues to cast a long, jagged shadow over Amerindie rock and pop, with beaucoup de bands in thrall of the Velvets vortex: a buzzing, tuneful rhythm guitar strum, a relentless snare and tom-tom pound, and deadpan downtown vocals. Yet two more groups spin variations on the signature Sturm und Drang. First, Chattanooga-gone-Baltimore trio Big Heifer pushes all the right naif-rock buttons, with guitarist Roby and bassist Barbara singing endearingly about Hercules, the rigors of friendship, intergalactic nice guy Dr. Neptar, and love stuff ("Ten rolls of duct tape wouldn't keep us together/And I think it's for the better") while cranking out whooshing three-minute guitar pop. Frolicsome, frantic, and fissionable. (Box 41343, Baltimore, MD 21203-6343)
Meanwhile, Detroit's Outrageous Cherry takes a more studied tack, with singer-songwriter-guitarist Matthew Smith and his mates zigzagging between hooky, fuzzed-out nuggets ("'Til I Run Out," "Pale Frail Lovely One," "Overwhelmed") and reverberating guitar clangor ("The Stare," "Withdrawal," "Radio Telephone Operator Procedures Pt. 2"), much of it iced with Smith's gritty baritone, which occasionally calls to mind the gravelly voice of Lee Hazelwood. Anyone who ever genuflected at the tabernacle of the Perfect Disaster should get up close and personal with Outrageous Cherry.