Meanwhile, McMahon's vocals are by turns smoothly Bowie-esque ("I Apologise") and screamingly Reznor-esque ("Animal"), with weird, whiny, trollish ramblings ("Communique") interspersed as he poses and preens like a postapocalyptic Marc Bolan. The lyrical content also represents a departure from the industrial pack, with good-natured lyrics exploring both positive and negative aspects of life, love, creativity, and fame. Even sex is treated differently. While Reznor sneers "I want to fuck you like an animal," McMahon chuckles, "I can't take a poke for fun with that animal on your back." Antisocial brooders won't get the same kicks out of Prick as they would from NIN A this is industrial for deviants with a sense of humor.

By Gina Cardenas

Paul K and the Weathermen
Achilles Heel
(Thirsty Ear)

Listening to his songs, you get the feeling Paul K is a real asshole. A real smart asshole. His relentless misanthropy, along with a compulsive eclecticism, may explain why Paul K has yet to gain much praise in these United States. Certainly his relative obscurity has nothing to do with his prodigious talents as a songwriter. The not-so-proud owner of three dozen self-released records, a man widely worshipped in Europe, Paul K has released a grand total of two albums stateside. Achilles Heel is number two.

Backed by a drum-tight trio, the Kentucky native lets rip for about half the disc, chugging from the garage stomp of "Deportee" to the caustic fret-slash of "Internet Worm." Much more gratifying are the disc's quieter moments: the delicate country lilt of "Roses for the Rich," the hypnotic violin squalls that illuminate "Golden Opportunity." Like a lot of inveterate cynics, Paul K is a softy down deep. And as deftly as he expels anger, his moments of sonic vulnerability are riveting. When the two come together, as in the darkly masterful "Everything's Forgiven," Paul K seems nothing short of a musical genius. The sort of dude who -- despite his bad manners -- you'd be happy listening to all night.

By Steven Almond

Dave Specter & the Bluebirds
Live in Europe

Dave Specter's Live in Europe displays the 32-year-old Chicago guitarist's taste and fire. Joined by vocalist-harmonica man Tad Robinson and the tight rhythm section of bassist Mick McCurdy and drummer Mark Fornek, Specter stretches out, enjoying the live setting and the obviously appreciative German crowd.

The album begins with Specter's own "West Side Stroll," an instrumental homage to his Chi-town roots. The energy never wanes as Robinson adds his voice and harp tones to the Junior Wells standard "Little by Little," jazzes up John Lee Sonny Boy Williamson's sad letter tale "Bluebird Blues," and brings an appropriate sense of fun to Cleanhead Vinson's "Kidney Stew." His impassioned soul wailing is especially welcome on "Sweet Serenity," which he penned with Specter, while his barely restrained emotional delivery sounds just as gratifying on the Otis Clay classic "I Die a Little Each Day." And Specter's tough but clean lead lines and late-night jazz chords provide a respite from all the screaming histrionics that often pass for blues guitar-playing these days.

By Bob Weinberg


Sixteen months after the suicide of Kurt Cobain, the carrion eaters continue to pick at the corpse of Nirvana. First, Island Records sent in the clones with the soulless Local H. Now Columbia follows with these ersatz Neverminders. Stay tuned: This dweeb parade has only begun.

By Michael Yockel

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