Perhaps 2004's least riveting don't-call-it-a- comeback was Ma$e, Puffy's first major protégé, who quit the game five years ago to become a minister, then returned to grace us with artless Christ-love rhymes about "livin' la vida without the loca." N.Y.C's Fabolous is one of many young'uns who appropriated Ma$e's syrupy, man-on-the-make flow, and on this third LP, he too has much love for the Man Upstairs (courtesy of "Church"), and even more for the women downstairs, spitting, "In my Sunday school, these bitches get a one-day rule: You gotta fuck by Monday, cool." F-A-B-O may have "Jesus Christ on my neck reaching to my lap," but he can't resist a little not-quite-ready-for-monogamy pillow talk (à la last year's Ashanti-backed breakout, "Into You"). Fabolous is all about the crossover, which makes him simultaneously indelible and ingratiating; he still hasn't really carved out his own identity. Half the time, he's throwing down like a more metrosexual, coherent Chingy ("Girls" and "Tit for Tat" juxtapose his love for things both "bourgeoisie and coochie"). The rest of the time, Fab's looking out for the underground, inadvertently stumbling onto the Nas/Jay-Z turf war via the title track's boast, "Some people look at me as the real talk of New York." (Um, like who?) It's one thing to call out fakes inciting his brethren into cheap battle beefs, but this still-maturing MC needs to define the man behind the mike before he can convincingly play ghetto leader. Likable as the party Fab can be, it's hard to believe that's all there is. ANDREW BONAZELLI
You get the hiccups, according to an Irish proverb, from the food you didn't eat. Or, we're told, they're a reflex that helped our amphibious ancestors, possessing both gills and lungs, to breathe with the appropriate organ in water or air. But whether the hiccup is a mark of unsatiated hunger or enduring ambiguity, it's fitting that this double spasm should play the starring role on the debut mix CD of Montreal's Marc Leclair, aka Akufen. On 2002's My Way, Akufen built glitchy but inescapable dance hooks out of chopped-up bursts of noise taken from radio samples; his skill turned a pile of snippets into a taut whole that promised to fracture at any moment. Similarly, Fabric 17 revels in desire frustrated or waning, actions thwarted or abandoned. Its rhythms and melodies disintegrate or bifurcate before scattering away or succumbing to other sounds, which decay in turn. Bass lines belch and stumble, and sometimes they're not even really bass lines—low-end stutters, shudders, and death rattles make do as often as not. Laughter—the hiccup of a fool, per an old English saying—erupts and is stifled. Early on, we get pop covers complete with lyrics (Kalabrese's Diana-Ross-via-Kim-Wilde-via-Electroclash reworking of "You Keep Me Hangin' On" and Señor Coconut's transformation of "Smoke on the Water" into the Chilean soundtrack to an apocalyptic Swiss spy film), and the collection opens with Pantytec's remix of Matthew Dear's meta-antinarrative "Dog Days." But we most often hear the nonverbal voice: incomprehensible, isolated whispers, sighs, and speech truncated to mechanical exhalation. Fabric 17 is buoyant, but on close listen, its curtailed outbursts hint at unfulfilled possibilities. KRISTAL HAWKINS
KNIGHTS OF THE NEW CRUSADE
My God is Alive! Sorry About Yours!
Is this a joke? And if it is, is it funny? Garage-punk fans have been wondering what to make of this masked, Bible-thumping San Francisco band; one online forum poster brought it home by calling them the Christian Spits. Their sound features the '60s soul-influenced raw rock and rumble of all the usual suspects from the Stones to the Sonics—whose "He's Waiting" they claim to draw divine inspiration from—and their lyrics are like second-grade Sunday school lessons. In "Whores of Babylon," behind the kind of garage beat you could tap out in your sleep, they observe, "I think it's odd/Sinners worship her instead of God." But hey, they're not claiming to be big-shot revolutionaries; they're just, you know, spreading the word of God. Considering the sharp lines dividing our society's dogma these days, that's kind of dangerous word to spread to presumably nonconservative (and often drunk) rock and rollers, though, isn't it? As Knight Michael Andrews said via e-mail, "Of course we get people who don't realize that if 'punk' is about opposing corrupt authority, then Jesus WAS THE FIRST AND BEST PUNK EVER! We started playing secular clubs [because] if we were [following what Jesus] tells us to do in the Gospel, we had to go out among the sinners. He went among the prostitutes and the tax collectors, and he gave them all his message." If you're turning tricks at the Comet this weekend, prepare to receive the word. LAURA CASSIDY
Knights of the New Crusade play the Comet Tavern with the Willowz and Thee Flying Dutchmen at 9:30 p.m. $5.