HANDSOME BOY MODELING SCHOOL, So...How's Your Girl? (Tommy Boy) There are two kinds of weird. The cute, clever kind of weird calls attention to itself>"/>
HANDSOME BOY MODELING SCHOOL, So...How's Your Girl? (Tommy Boy) There are two kinds of weird. The cute, clever kind of weird calls attention to itself and gets old fast (e.g., Andy Warhol, Cher). The other variety is the unself-conscious oddity of the true nutcase; it follows its own path and possesses a kind of organic truth that cannot be faked. Handsome Boy Modeling School, a collaborative project from Prince Paul and Dan the Automator, is what happens when you multiply the second kind of weirdness by two. Based on a single episode of the early '90s sitcom Get a Life, So...How's Your Girl? features guest spots by everyone from Del tha Funkee Homosapien to Sean Lennon to Father Guido Sarducci (of '70s Saturday Night Live fame). Do you see what I'm saying? You would never put Father Sarducci on a hip-hop record to be clever; you would only do it because you woke up one morning and said to yourself, "You know what this album needs? Father Guido Sarducci!" Of course a hip-hop album must move butts as well as minds, but don't worry: Your ass is in good hands (figuratively speaking, that is). Because the producers have so much experience between them, they can draw on all eras of hip-hop without seeming derivative or cheap. "Megatron B-boy 2000," for example, takes a beautifully distorted 808 drum loop—which sounds like it was recorded from a neighbor's apartment in 1987—then lets MC sensation El-P loose to develop his unique "stream of nonsense" rhyme flow over it. In short, this album is a layer cake of pleasant insanity, great beats, challenging ideas, and offbeat humor that holds many treasures for the dedicated listener.—Joe Schloss
CAUSTIC RESIN, Trick Question (Alias) There is a certain zen to the music of Caustic Resin, one that can only be fully realized with a case of cheap beer, a bong load, and a lava lamp. This trio has long been the castoff relative of the Boise, Idaho, music scene: the mutant offspring of Built to Spill, the bastard cousin of Tad, the evil twin of Treepeople. Unlike the current rash of lame-ass rawk revival bands, Caustic Resin has been cranking out their own version of retro-rock for a decade. On its fourth album, Trick Question, the Boise boys fuse Pink Floyd influences with hints of Hendrix and shades of the Melvins. The opening track, "Unlucky," is a sludgy stew that stirs the beast within, but the thunderous groove subdues like a lobotomy. The song suddenly aborts midwail after seven-and-a-half minutes, with guitarist Brett Netson's spectral vocals lingering like a nightmare. The plodding, bluesy "Taste" lulls with torpid riffs and deep, droning backing vocals from Seattle's Mike Johnson. Netson produced the first five tracks with Phil Ek (Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, 764-HERO), and it flows seamlessly like extended-play vinyl. The other band members (Tom Romich and James Dillon) pick up the production credit for the remaining songs and inject confusion into the fray—from the mechanical "Nice Wings You Got There" to the full-on punk freakout of "Lie." The band's namesake is actually the perfect description for Trick Question. Like a toxic substance, it seeps under the skin and eats at the edges of your brain until the refrain from "Lie"—"Stop fucking with my head"—becomes a resounding mantra.—Barbara Arnett
Caustic Resin plays the Crocodile Saturday, October 23.
VARIOUS ARTISTS, Between Heaven & Earth: Traditional Gamelan Music of Bali (Music Club) Though it doesn't boldly announce itself as such, the music of Bali and Java's gamelan orchestras is among the world's most sacred—in most cases, the music is created as a religious offering. That's appropriate, given that gamelan's most immediately appealing aspects to the ear of the outsider—its otherworldly sense of calm and its dancing-in-your-head mesh of complex polyrhythms and melodic ostinatos—give it a kind of (literally) meditative air. But even if you don't subscribe to the universal mind, gamelan's insistent melange of gong/metallophone/chime/tuned percussion ripples—a sort of aural equivalent of fingers tapping on your forehead—can be bewitching, at once forbiddingly esoteric and instantly accessible. So it is with this collection, a fine introduction to the style featuring six tracks by three Balinese groups, and what's most surprising is how distinct each of these theoretically similar pieces actually is. Gender Wayang Pemarwan's "Langiang" is a playful, curlicuing thing of beauty that resembles Aphex Twin at his most delicate, while the forward-hurtling grace of Gamelan Jegog Werdi Sentana's 25-minute "Tabuh Gegenderan" is as good an introduction to the sources of Steve Reich's percussion pieces as you could ask for. And though it may be sacrilege to say so, Between Heaven & Earth also makes one hell of a good post-clubbing chill-out record.—Michaelangelo Matos
5IVE STYLE, Miniature Portraits (Sub Pop) I'd written 5ive Style off a while ago. After the band's magnificent, funk- and jazz-filled 1995 debut, they slipped off the radar with hardly a blip. I saw them play a club in 1997 and my jaw dropped—their playful instrumentals were stricken from the set list, and a newly installed frontman of some sort was singing white boy cracker soul music like the Black Crowes never happened. When Miniature Portraits hit the shelves in August, I got a copy, popped it into the player, and prepared for the worst. Not only was I relieved to find the frontman gone and the magic back, I was overwhelmed at just how much I enjoyed the disc. Miniature Portraits goes a bit beyond the funk, corralling spacey dub textures and deliciously greasy organs for happy, jamworthy tracks like "The Lost Oar" and "Father Time." The Chicago-based quartet keeps the tracks under four minutes, leaving no room for egotistical solos. The players get in, they shake around a bit, they move on. Even the meandering "Here We Go" provides a bit of tension, like a starry night under loose telephone wires.—Jason Josephes