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POP MUSIC | RECORD RACK

*** 1/2 THE GERALDINE FIBBERS, "Butch," Virgin

June 29, 1997|Richard Cromelin

The battle of the sexes has seldom been waged as brutally in rock as it is on "Butch." In one vivid scenario after another, the Los Angeles band depicts violently twisted relationships with an intensity that verges on the hallucinatory. For good measure, the instrumental "Claudine" refers to Claudine Longet, the actress-singer who fatally shot her boyfriend Spider Sabich in 1976.

Singer Carla Bozulich relishes the challenge. Sometimes subtle and dusky, sometimes clawing and screaming, the deep-voiced street diva captures the confusion and desperation of people trapped, dreamlike, in situations they don't understand and can't escape.

The music on the band's second formal album frequently conveys the power of the sexual and emotional needs that drive people into damaging entanglements. Its rich layers of strings--violin, cello, bowed bass--support the edgy-rock foundation, deepening and rounding the moods. Guitarist Nels Cline provides Beatles-esque folk-rock 12-string, Clapton-like clarity and a dissonance that reflects the characters' disorientation. The Fibbers are also drawn to the archetypes of pure country tradition.

Alternately elegiac and furious, "Butch" has an urgency, originality and candor that confirm the band as a legitimate successor to X, Concrete Blonde and Jane's Addiction--L.A.'s indispensable messengers from the emotional frontier.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four stars (excellent).

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* Excerpts from these albums and other recent pop music releases are available on The Times' World Wide Web site. Point your browser to: http://www.latimes.com/soundclips

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