East River Pipe The Gasoline Age (Merge) Since he recorded the 1996 album Mel on a Tascam ministudio in his Queens living room, one important


Gloomy but pretty East River Pipe, Dick's '70s flashback, and more

East River Pipe The Gasoline Age (Merge) Since he recorded the 1996 album Mel on a Tascam ministudio in his Queens living room, one important thing has changed for F. M. Cornog, a.k.a. East River Pipe: He and his Tascam have moved to New Jersey. The good news is that not much else has changed. Cornog's fourth CD, The Gasoline Age, is just as sad and pretty as its predecessors. The instrumentation is spare and subtle, relying largely on Cornog's amiable vocals and careful guitar playing, with some programmed rhythms and a gentle cascade of keyboards. If you like the more downbeat moments of the Magnetic Fields, you'll probably like this. Lyrically, you don't look to East River Pipe for moments of affirmation. His previous highs—er, lows—include "Bring On the Loser" and the drinking ode "Kill the Action." On The Gasoline Age, Cornog reminds us that "Hell Is an Open Door"—"C'mon everybody, get in," he invites—and that "Pain is coming to town/But it won't last forever" ("King of Nothing Never"). The geographic move westward has given Cornog a lead on a new theme, one that the album's title hints at: driving. In addition to addressing his terminal outsider status, these songs talk of drives in "pimpmobiles," cruising on trashy Route 22, and trips down 42nd Street and to Atlantic City. The lone ray of sunshine on this sad journey is the brief, meditative "My Little Rainbow," a pause in the muted misery that's just long enough to remind us why we go on living despite the pain life inflicts.—Lydia Vanderloo

Various Artists Music from the Motion Picture Dick (Virgin) A quick perusal of current film soundtracks reveals that there are exactly two kinds: Those that cull from the vast oldies pool with a very narrow net, and those that just take a bunch of B-sides from flavor-of-the-minute alterna-groups. The Dick soundtrack is a perverse collision of both, with 14 of the 15 tracks being oldies. Look at what we have here: Redbone's "Come and Get Your Love," Blue Swede's "Hooked on a Feeling," Jean Knight's "Mr. Big Stuff." I'm already thinking about Burger King commercials from days gone by. Oh, but there's more. You get such underappreciated classics as Elton John's "Crocodile Rock," the Jackson 5's "ABC," and Grand Funk Railroad's "The Loco-Motion." In other words, the exact same tracks you find on such cut-out bin classics as Super Sounds of the '70s. Ah, but all of the discontinued oldies collections in the world won't garner you Christian rock's pride and joy, Sixpence None the Richer, and their gooey cover of ABBA's "Dancing Queen." I've always been in the minority on ABBA—I can't stand them—but I can't imagine anyone thinking that abundant glossiness combined with yet another unnecessary cover is going to equal anything resembling entertainment. This disturbing soundtrack trend of moldy oldies and remake mistakes must be working. Either that, or the boys in Hollywood don't know how to do anything right. But what are the odds of that?—Jason Josephes

Various Artists Brasil 2 Mil: The Soul of Bass-O-Nova (Six Degrees) Brazil's vibrant pop music has thrilled outsiders since the 1950s onset of bossa nova fever. These days, the country's hip quotient is higher than ever, thanks in part to a stellar new record from Tropicalia cocreator Caetano Veloso and namechecks from Beck, Tortoise, and longtime fan David Byrne. Brasil 2 Mil indicates that the hubbub won't be dying down any time soon. Showcasing Brazilian-pop iconoclasts both well known and up-and-coming, the compilation includes new and previously released songs, and several remixes. A smooth but dramatic collaboration between caramel-voiced singer Bebel Gilberto and Dutch kitsch-meisters Arling & Cameron kicks off the party, and it continues unabated until the closing track, a sneaky Fila Brazillia remix of the percussion ensemble Arakatuba. Bespectacled bossa nova manipulator Arto Lindsay cools out as usual on "Ridiculously Deep," from his 1997 album Reentry/Noon Chill. Arnaldo Antunes, a poet and '80s pop star, duets with diva Marisa Monte on a breezy, low-key acoustic number from his import-only solo debut. Other contributors who may be familiar: recently discovered Afro-Brazilian songstress Virg???a Rodrigues, and Veloso and Lindsay cohort Vin???us CantuᲩa, represented by one of his 1996 collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto. On the unknown side, another Dutch-Brazilian combo, ZUCO 103, mixes house music with Brazilian roots styles, while Yugoslavian-born producer Suba (a.k.a. Mitar Sub�) loops chugging industrial beats behind intimate, lounge-inspired tunes. If you had to choose a standout track, Smoke City's offbeat "Numbers" would be a contender, as would the late Chico Science's self-proclaimed "swamp beat" sound, remixed here by Beastie Boys producer Mario Caldato. But Brasil 2 Mil begs to be heard all the way through, a testament to musicians who've forged a new sound from their rich

history and promising future.—Jackie McCarthy

L7 Slap Happy (Bong Load) L7 have always had an ability to inspire incredible bouts of head-banging despite, or maybe because of, their clich餠lyrics and predictable guitar solos. Oh, how I was ready to love their new album, their first for an indie label after spending most of the '90s attached to Warner Bros. (through Slash). I wanted a teeth-gnashing, windmill-inspiring record and instead got the flat and poorly produced Slap Happy. There's still some charm to be had here, but mostly it'll leave any fan of the band's scowling, growling, crotch-clutching oomph-rock wondering what happened. On "Freeway," L7's self-described first-ever "hip-hop" track, a Gilbert Grape-sounding character yells "Pussy" over watery looped beats and B-grade '80s Casio; amusing, but it's not hip-hop. "Livin' Large" starts out promising, with the same pretty chord progression as "Non-existent Patricia" from 1997's great The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum, but the new song quickly deteriorates with the onset of vocals: "We're livin' large in our own little way/Got some lemons, make some kickass lemonade." Much of the rest of the album falls into similarly unfortunate categories, even after the third, "I'm-determined-to-love-this-album" listen. If sincere, intentionally clich餠rock is in order, L7's largely overlooked Beauty Process is a necessity, and any live show of theirs is guaranteed to rock harder than all the Warped Tour bands combined. Too bad they couldn't translate these strengths onto their new record.—Kerry Murphy

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