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Music Picks

[whitespace] By Michelle Goldberg (MG) and Chris Knight (CK)

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Blood Roses
Demonstration From the House of Faith

The new album from the San Francisco band Blood Roses brought on hints of emotions I haven't been able to conjure in ages--moods I doubt I'll ever recover in a town where bars close at 2am. They sound like that sad, defiant, fuck-it comfort that you get when you stumble into a bar late on a night following a day when your life's fallen apart. Singer Michelle Muldrow's voice is high, clear and throaty, equally suited to rousing pop songs and lugubrious ballads. Like a slightly chilled-out Concrete Blonde, the Blood Roses are twangy and bluesy without ever devolving into alt-country kitsch. Combined with the beauty of Muldrow's singing, the band's luscious hooks and insinuating melodies make the whole thing irresistible. (MG)

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Dave Ellis
In the Long Run

Known for his driving, powerful tone and for swinging hard, Berkeley native Dave Ellis brings all his energy and stellar technique into this new release from Monarch. In the Long Run is not a real departure from what he's done before, it's simply more of the great jazz we've come to expect from Ellis. The syncopated sense of humor of "Ced & Dunn" is reminiscent of his playful banter with guitarist Charlie Hunter on Bing, Bing, Bing in 1995. Jeff Chimenti on piano brings a more traditional feel to some acidic tracks, like his arrangement of Cole Porter's "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To." Ellis slows down on this one, showing his softer side. But he likes the fast ones, like "Meltdown," a quick, angular mover where his tenor solos sound like Coltrane playing bop. He plays a sweet soprano on "Pillars," too, but even when he gets quiet, you know he's gonna jump out and pounce on you. (CK)

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Not for Threes

Featuring guest appearances by two of electronic music's premier divas, Plaid's latest album is at once sophisticated and exuberantly whimsical. From the vertiginous tempo changes in the breakbeat-based "Headspin" to the marimba-spiked island sounds of "Myopia," most tracks on Not for Threes have a relaxed playfulness--they're downtempo but upbeat. But there are also moments of passionate, sad beauty, including the sinister "Extort," with snaky, sublime vocals provided by former Massive Attack guest chanteuse Nicolette. Pixie queen Bjork sings on "Lilith," the strange, sultry otherworldliness of her voice perfectly matched by the hypnotic tattoo of exotic, organic bass and crystalline bells. It's a fortuitous collaboration, since both Bjork and Plaid combine their abundant quirkiness with bold, nearly delirious musical inventiveness. (MG)

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From the December 7-20, 1998 issue of the Metropolitan.

Copyright © Metro Publishing Inc.