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A British Tip of the Hat to American Rock

*** STEREOPHONICS, 'Just Enough Education to Perform,"V2

April 15, 2001|STEVE HOCHMAN

We're still winning the Revolutionary War-the English, it seems, can't really do rock without pledging allegiance to music originated here in the former colonies. But they're still winning a lot of battles, at least artistically. While Oasis may have lost creative and commercial momentum, several others are carrying on, if only on the former front-not least Stereophonics, which with its third album (due in stores Tuesday) has matured into a highly appealing, moderately challenging act with just enough English accent to stand out.

Any doubt about the American orientation is removed with references to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas and Lee Harvey Oswald scattered around-not to mention the basic assembly of guitars, keyboards and vocals that, as with another current English band, Gomez, seem rooted in a '70s American blues-folk style. "Vegas Two Times" starts the album off on a dense, grungy note, but it's the less blustery material that bears the most emotional richness.

Singer-songwriter Kelly Jones' voice conveys Gallagherian weariness with its saw-tooth edge but without the annoying chip on the shoulder-though a little more swagger might make the package more compelling-and his lyrics effectively mix nice-guy sentiment and earnest quests for meaning. Older rock fans might think of this as a descendant of Ronnie Lane's folky contributions to the Faces. That's a solid pedigree.

*

Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent). The albums are already released unless otherwise noted.

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