On the disc-opening "Get Higher," with its deep rhythms, floating keyboards, and light, distant guitar sound, Ryder half-sings, "I've got to take my smiley pill"; additionally, Ronald and Nancy Reagan impersonators confess their drug use, and a high-pitched chorus whispers, "Got to get stronger to get higher." Another bright spot is "Rubber Band," which features metallic, distorted vocals; a heavy, hypnotic groove; and soaring guitar work. "Marbles (Why You Say Yes)" is a Manchestery tune with a booming bass line, slowly sung lyrics, Hammond B-3 organ ornamentation, strong backing horns, and an occasional well-placed rap.

Most of Stupid engenders spontaneous head-bobbing, but some tracks fall flatter than bunk ecstasy. The horn section on a cover of Seventies soul crooner Frederick Knight's "Lonely" is better suited to a sitcom theme song, while the CD's many production effects -- the sirens and wild laughter on "Spotlight," the vocal gimmickry on "Money Back Guarantee" -- wear thin quickly. All annoyances aside, Stupid will keep your mind and feet busy.

-- Larry Boytano

Todos Tus Muertos
Argentina Te Asesina

Argentina Te Asesina (Argentina Will Kill Ya), the second album by Argentine rock en espanol band Todos Tus Muertos (All Your Dead), has all the power you'd expect from a live album but a great deal more musical cohesion than is usually in evidence on recordings of most bands' live performances.

Coming from a nation that saw its regime murder more than 30,000 of its citizens, rock becomes less a gesture of rebellion and more a rebellion itself. With a highly politically charged repertoire, the kind of thing that makes Rage Against the Machine seem so ludicrous by comparison, Fidel Nadal (vocals), Horacio Villafane (guitar), Pablo Master (vocals and percussion), Felix Gutierrez (bass), and Pablo Pontenzoni (drums) segue from traditional Argentine music based on indigenous rhythms to reggae to punk and back again with an instrumental potency and conviction that don't forget the music is there for its own sake as well as for the sake of its message.

"Hijos Nuestros" ("Our Children") starts out like a slightly funky "Guantanamera" but soon finds its way to a point midway between the Clash and the Dickies, drops down into a hard brass take on Bob Marley for a swingtime rap, then soars back into the fast stuff.

Although a few of the songs, such as "No Mas Apartheid" and "Mandela," seem outdated, it doesn't prevent their being enjoyable. "Demasiados Revueltos" ("Too Many Riots") is pure punk fury that no one stateside has heard for a long time, the California punk renaissance that bred Rancid and Green Day notwithstanding. Songs such as this remind you that, just as the English language and English literature have been kept vital by contributions of everyone from black Americans to Caribbeans to the Irish -- everyone, that is, outside of England -- so punk, if it is to survive and remain vital, will have to do so outside of the United States and the rest of its established sphere, in places where its vocabulary is still capable of expressing something important. (Grita! P.O. Box 1216, Murray Hill Station, New York, NY 10156)

-- Curt Hopkins

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