The Gena Rowlands Band

Nope, this isn't another movie starlet looking to validate her questionable musical ability. Rowlands is billed but not involved, merely name-dropped alongside actress Janeane Garofalo ("Garofalo, C'est Moi"), singer Lesley Gore ("The Last Words of Lesley Gore" and even winemaker Ernest Gallo ("Easter @ the 7-11") by the band's true mastermind, Bob Massey. With his doleful ramblings, supple fretwork, and lounge-like keyboards, La Merde et Les Etoiles is a murky, bare-bones affair which takes its title -- French for "the shit and the stars" -- literally. Between the cinematic references and Massey's self-effacing melancholia ("I was an optimist/Now I'm a third-rate lyricist"), it provides lingering reflections of loners and losers inhabiting aimless weekends, haunted by boredom and despair. The result: a stunner, but a bummer.

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Lee Zimmerman