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Amy Winehouse, White Williams, Puscifer

click to enlarge Puscifer  - V is for Vagina -  - Puscifer  - Sounds like: Keenan sets his inner dialogue to music -  - Short take: Not a Tool pacifier -  - Twisted, enigmatic, irreverent and iconoclastic all - describe Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan, who's - back with a debut from his new side project, Puscifer. - Whereas one might expect the prog-metal visionary to - digress into a self-indulgent experiment of din and - eclecticism, the good news is that V is for Vagina is in some ways more accessible than Tool, or even - Keenan's other side project, A Perfect Circle. The - material  which bounces between Zeppelin-inspired - rhythms and '70s pop sounds  further defines Keenan's - religious beliefs (he loathes the Christian right) and - features him front and center. Invariably, Tool fans will - have a difficult time with the album's guitar deficiency. - Think of Vagina as a Mike Patton-esque side - project that should only be approached with tepid - expectations.  John Benson -
  • Puscifer
    V is for Vagina
    Puscifer
    Sounds like: Keenan sets his inner dialogue to music

    Short take: Not a Tool pacifier

    Twisted, enigmatic, irreverent and iconoclastic all describe Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan, who's back with a debut from his new side project, Puscifer. Whereas one might expect the prog-metal visionary to digress into a self-indulgent experiment of din and eclecticism, the good news is that V is for Vagina is in some ways more accessible than Tool, or even Keenan's other side project, A Perfect Circle. The material which bounces between Zeppelin-inspired rhythms and '70s pop sounds further defines Keenan's religious beliefs (he loathes the Christian right) and features him front and center. Invariably, Tool fans will have a difficult time with the album's guitar deficiency. Think of Vagina as a Mike Patton-esque side project that should only be approached with tepid expectations. John Benson

click to enlarge White Williams  -  - Smoke  - Tigerbeat6  - Sounds like: Beck on Quaaludes, after his instruments were stolen -  - Short take: Cover art sums it up -  - Joe "White" Williams is a man concerned about his image - as a "fun" artist. He's just come off tours with Dan - Deacon and Girl Talk, two oddball artists who sound - respectively like recess time at a Machiavellian music - school and dueling car radios set to "seek." On - Smoke's inlay, Williams grins smugly, showing - he's not really concerned with effort. But White's actual - music lacks the feel-good frenzies of Deacon or Girl - Talk. The songs are really pretty simple: a happy-go- - lucky bass line, a beat to keep pace, occasional acoustic - guitar, some keyboard flourishes and soft, talk-sung - lyrics. The songs are held to minimalist tendencies; - White sings their lines between hits off a nearby blunt. - He's a lesser approximation of Supersystem, Beck and - LCD Soundsystem, too insubstantial to be much else. -  Matt Martin
  • White Williams

    Smoke
    Tigerbeat6
    Sounds like: Beck on Quaaludes, after his instruments were stolen

    Short take: Cover art sums it up

    Joe "White" Williams is a man concerned about his image as a "fun" artist. He's just come off tours with Dan Deacon and Girl Talk, two oddball artists who sound respectively like recess time at a Machiavellian music school and dueling car radios set to "seek." On Smoke's inlay, Williams grins smugly, showing he's not really concerned with effort. But White's actual music lacks the feel-good frenzies of Deacon or Girl Talk. The songs are really pretty simple: a happy-go- lucky bass line, a beat to keep pace, occasional acoustic guitar, some keyboard flourishes and soft, talk-sung lyrics. The songs are held to minimalist tendencies; White sings their lines between hits off a nearby blunt. He's a lesser approximation of Supersystem, Beck and LCD Soundsystem, too insubstantial to be much else. Matt Martin

click to enlarge Amy Winehouse   -  - Frank  -  -  - Universal Republic -  - Sounds - like: A non-alcoholic beer commercial -  - Short take: Pre-"Rehab" Winehouse proves Joss - Stone-like -  - Thanks to her much-loved sophomore effort, Back to - Black, Amy Winehouse's 2003 debut, Frank, - is finally getting a stateside release. Just as the material - shows more of a musically tender side ("I Heard Love is - Blind"), Frank possesses a distinctly watered- - down, old-school jazz feel that lacks the passion and - urgency of her follow-up. Lyrically, Winehouse's cutting - honesty is present ("F**k Me Pumps"), but this is clearly - an artist in discovery mode. It's easy to play Monday- - morning quarterback here, but there appears to be truth - in the supposition that this gifted-but-current train - wreck of an artist successfully parlayed her dysfunctional - life into inspiration and sublime songwriting. Even - though you can hear how Winehouse needed - Frank to get to Back to Black - , it doesn't - mean her fans do.  John Benson
  • Amy Winehouse

    Frank

    Universal Republic
    Sounds like: A non-alcoholic beer commercial

    Short take: Pre-"Rehab" Winehouse proves Joss Stone-like

    Thanks to her much-loved sophomore effort, Back to Black, Amy Winehouse's 2003 debut, Frank, is finally getting a stateside release. Just as the material shows more of a musically tender side ("I Heard Love is Blind"), Frank possesses a distinctly watered- down, old-school jazz feel that lacks the passion and urgency of her follow-up. Lyrically, Winehouse's cutting honesty is present ("F**k Me Pumps"), but this is clearly an artist in discovery mode. It's easy to play Monday- morning quarterback here, but there appears to be truth in the supposition that this gifted-but-current train wreck of an artist successfully parlayed her dysfunctional life into inspiration and sublime songwriting. Even though you can hear how Winehouse needed Frank to get to Back to Black , it doesn't mean her fans do. John Benson

  • Amy Winehouse, White Williams, Puscifer

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