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Reviewed by Dan Grunebaum

LAIKA / Good Looking Blues
(Too Pure)

LAIKA / Good Looking BluesLike the dog after which they are named, sent by the Soviets into orbit aboard a spaceship as the first living being to leave the Earth' atmosphere, Laika evoke a sense of weightlessness. Neither wholly indie rock nor entirely ambient techno, the UK band tread a fine line between hypnotic experimentalism and banality. But with their third album Good Looking Blues, the quirky songwriting of vocalist Mary Murphy Fiedler and multi-instrumentalist Guy Fixsen on songs with odd titles like "Black Cat Bone" mostly makes for an entrancing listening experience. Fiedler's whispering, sing-song voice weaves in and out of a kaleidoscope of analog keyboards, trumpets, saxophones and effects to create a zero-gravity sonic zone where anything is possible.


REGURGITATOR / ...art
(Warner/eastwest japan)


REGURGITATOR / ...artLittle known beyond the shores of their native Australia - where it seems they are platinum sellers in the midst of a six-record deal with Warner - Regurgitator are a band for whom nothing is sacred. The Brisbane-based alternative rock trio, consisting of singer-songwriters Ben Ely and Quan Yeomans with drummer Martin Lee, leave nothing unscathed, trashing '80s electrofunk on "Freshmint," consumer culture on "Are You Being Served" and '90s electronica on "I Like Repetitive Music." The group's third album, ...art is a deviously infectious barrage of upbeat songs, and offers a ray of hope for rock from down under. Regurgitator play Shibuya On Air West on May 10. See listings for details.


AIMEE MANN /
Music from the Motion Picture Magnolia

(Reprise)


AIMEE MANN / Music from the Motion Picture MagnoliaThere are soundtracks - you know, the mood-enhancing kind with soaring string sections at just the right parts - and then there are soundtracks. Singer-songwriter Aimee Mann's soundtrack to Magnolia, the recently-released film by Paul Thomas Anderson (Boogie Nights) starring Tom Cruise, is the latter - an assemblage of songs which are so intimate with the screenplay that they form an organic part of the film. And in fact, says Anderson, "I had the concept of adapting Aimee's songs into a screenplay." Mann's insightful, bittersweet look at modern romance on wistful folk-rockers like "Driving Sideways," and her keen turn of phrase mean that this is one soundtrack you may want to buy before you see the movie.


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