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Pop Music | Record Rack

Jurassic 5's Power Surge

October 06, 2002|Randy Lewis; Robert Hilburn; Soren Baker; Steve Appleford; Susan Carpenter; Agustin Gurza; Ernesto Lechner

*** The Black Heart Procession, "Amore del Tropico," Touch and Go. Playful dread from San Diego's alchemists of dark, baroque pop, locating the sound of Leonard Cohen hosting an Addams Family marathon. The 56 minutes of early-morning ambience, Old World eccentricity and occasional tropicalia in "Amore" (due Tuesday) offer real drama, not melodrama, in mostly acoustic grooves. There's a western swagger (and a fine saw solo) in "Why I Stay" and a touch of romance within the cryptic waltzing piano of "The Invitation." Taunting, haunting, creepy, kooky. The group plays Saturday at the Knitting Factory Hollywood.

--Steve Appleford

*** 1/2 Mr. Airplane Man, "Moanin'," Sympathy for the Record Industry. It's easy to understand why Morphine frontman Mark Sandman stopped to listen when he heard them on a Boston sidewalk in 1998. The two young women were playing white-hot, punk-inflected, juke-joint blues as if they meant it, and they were doing it with nothing but a guitar and drums, wrenching every bit of soul and sound from their instru- ments. Staying that course on its second record, Mr. Airplane Man shows that it deserves a top spot on the list of current rock revivalists.

--Susan Carpenter

*** Yumuri, "Tiene Bilongo," Ahi-Nama. The career of this Cuban singer-songwriter dates back two decades to his stint with the seminal Afro-Cuban band of Elio Reve. This is the first album released domestically by this excellent but overlooked sonero, born Moises Valle and brother of better-known bandleader Orlando "Maraca" Valle. The 11 well-chosen songs offer solid, unpretentious salsa by Yumuri's accomplished band, enriched by a tasty horn section, charanga-style strings and guest solos by Maraca on flute and Pancho Amat on tres. Couched in the cool grooves and intriguing textures are Yumuri's warm and expert vocals.

--Agustin Gurza

*** Porcupine Tree, "In Absentia," Lava/Atlantic. The British quartet's seventh album (due Tuesday) is a prog-rock lover's delight, replacing the much maligned genre's occasional clunkiness with tight, post-grunge riffs ("Blackest Eyes") and tasty choruses you can actually hum ("The Sound of Muzak"). As much as the ethereal "Lips of Ashes" re-creates the autumnal vibe of Genesis circa 1976, Porcupine Tree avoids getting stuck in the past by incorporating hints of electronica in its lean, emotional sound.

--Ernesto Lechner


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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