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Picks by Edward Crouse (EC) and Kevin McCarthy (KM)

Jesus Lizard
Touch & Go

From their inception in 1989 to their dissolution in 1999, the Jesus Lizard put on some of the most memorable and harrowing live performances since Iggy Pop first bloodied himself on stage with the Stooges. Bang, their final release, is a cohesive compilation of early material from the glory days before lineup changes and major-label politics (producer Steve Albini severed all ties with band members when they signed with Capitol) left the band weakened and watered down. Including all their Touch & Go singles, live material and other rarities, plus three previously unreleased tracks, Bang is a brilliant curtain call for a band that garnered the reputation as the decade's greatest and most dangerous live rock band. (KM)

Sex 66
Grew Up Down

Whether you believe young rockers' seizure of country music's emotional honesty is vampiric, snide or on the money (the Rolling Stones' truckin' songs being all three), these cats from Sacramento slide by putting the pedal (steel) to the metal. Though the opening track, "Passion," reeks of a prefab arena sound--a meaningful glam take on "Baba O'Riley" with plenty of space for audience "Woo!"--the rest of the album hints at a coiled, live-wire energy, and its fusion of '80s psychedelic and country is more adequate than it needs to be. (EC)

Magnetic Fields
69 Love Songs, vol. 2

Volume 2--or the next set of 23 songs--of 69 Love Songs is both more raw and jumbled than its predecessor. Stephin Merritt has made more (earnest, passionate) country songs to ride shotgun with the experimental tunes. Nevertheless, all of the album is compulsively rhymed, structurally elegant and steeped in sad whimsy. "Papa Was a Rodeo," a gay country lament, is the centerpiece--an after-hours saloon song blessed with an enormous echo and a shock ending: duet partner Shirley Simms emerging from the aural wings to spread the song's desperation over all boundaries. Like the whole 69 project, it negates gender, gay-straight and musical borders, mates Irving Berlin with faux-free jazz, and fleshes out Dave Hickey's statement, "All songs are sad songs." In this floating garden, all songs are love songs. (EC)

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From the January 24, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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