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The second part features a single twenty-minute song, "Oh My My." This self-indulgent heap sounds like a cynical version of Life's Little Instruction Book set to music, with Siberry reciting aphorisms such as "There will be no answer" and "You'll discover drugs and alcohol." She even manages to break into a chorus of "Puff the Magic Dragon." Oh my my, indeed. To solve this problem: Leave during intermission.

By George Pelletier

Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments
Bait and Switch
(Onion)

Their Ohio roots and stark cover visuals promise a Pere Ubu-style critique of the crumbling of the Midwest's soul. But Thomas Jefferson Slave Apartments' first nonindie release -- Onion is an arm of Rick Rubin's Warner-distributed American Recordings -- couches its occasional social commentary in a high-energy goofball swagger that suggests an uproarious smashup between the Dead Boys and the Dead Milkmen. Singer Ron House gripes about being on the "Negative Guest List" ("even if I pay, I can't get in") and, in his best Daffy Duck (Daffy Fuck?) sputter, begs for the bombing of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame before "Steve Albini makes a speech." Elsewhere, "My Mysterious Death (Turn It Up)" suggests Ubu or Flipper gone grunge pop (demo-quality production being a hallmark of Bait and Switch), while another garage-burner asks the eternal question, "Is she shy or is she stuck-up?" Oh yeah, the CD credits "WEA Manufacturing . . . imported oil and foreign labor reliant on Japanese technology bought with American dollars."

By Rickey Wright

b-tribe
Suave Suave
(Lava/Atlantic)

Spain's b-tribe backs the beats of house music with the consciousness of new age to create an ambient mix of continuous tracks on Suave Suave. As the title suggests, this is seductive, trippy music (Ecstasy anyone?), a cool flow of chimes, electronic drums, and the sounds of the wind and the ocean. But the hook here is flamenco, the purest, deepest kind of flamenco song heard in Andalusia. German producer Claus Zundel, an Ibiza resident and the leader of b-tribe (shorthand for the Barcelona Tribe of Soulsters), clipped the vocals from flamenco singers whose voices he sampled during trips to southern Spain. Weaving them together with flamenco guitar riffs, subtle dance rhythms, and sounds from nature, Zundel softens the jarring effect of these ethnic wails. Elsewhere the soulful Brazilian singer Deborah Blando adds a pop accessibility on several songs. The album, a sort of musical suite, includes a traditional Spanish lullaby and a poem by the rural-minded Spanish poet Antonio Machado. For the most part, Suave Suave is classy club music: a smooth, well-structured blend that makes for nice background noise.

By Judy Cantor

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