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Kinski (Noise Pop)

Semaphore and Airs Above Your Station
Sub Pop/Strange Attractors Audio House

Good new records on Sub Pop -- who would have guessed? Kinski is one of America's finest live bands, laying down some devastating post-Sonic Youth, twin-guitar instro howl and somehow managing to change tunings between every song without a dull moment. And Chris Martin really does look like Klaus Kinski. Oh, right, Semaphore -- it starts out right, with some of the best tremelo scuzz since Link Wray on the title track. It sounds nothing like Link. They do a fine, straight-ahead take on the Clean's classic "Point That Thing Somewhere Else," one of their rare forays into singing. Track three's a wandering jammy thing I could do without, and the disc is wrapped up nicely with "I Wouldn't Hurt a Fly," alternating spacey quiet bits with a majestic Brancaesque roar. Sub Pop inexplicably released Semaphore as a tour-only tidbit, but a little poking on the Web will probably turn one up. And it's just a teaser for "Airs."

Since Kinski is a heavy psych band, they're bound by the Daydream Nation Treaty to make at least one double album and here it is, the obligatory sprawler. Like a lot of double albums, Airs uses the extra space to stretch out. There's not a stinker on the record, yet somehow it just kinda drags and I tend to need two sittings to get through all four sides. Maybe it's meant to be a CD.

-- Chris Selvig

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The Go-Betweens (Indie Pop)

Bright Yellow Bright Orange
Jetset Records

Aussie duo The Go-Betweens prove that songwriters still fall in love on Bright Yellow Bright Orange, their follow-up to the critically acclaimed Friends of Rachel Worth (Jetset, 2000). "Caroline And I," the disc's opening tune, is a perfect example of a playful pop song that makes no apologies for its lack of cynicism. But diamonds in the rough, like "Too Much of One Thing" or the charming concern of the closing number, "Unfinished Business" drive the album that will have fans of literate pop like Belle and Sebastian and the Silver Jews swooning along with the deceptive simplicity.

-- Orange Peel Moses

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The Bill Cunliffe Trio (Jazz)

Live at Bernie's
Groove Note

Bill Cunliffe is a bit different from many jazz composers in that he listens primarily to classical music. While jazz and classical share any number of traits -- complex harmonies, theory-based structures, and the requisite rigors of musicianship -- one doesn't often consider the crossover possibilities. Thankfully, Cunliffe's learnedness comes through in his compositions.

His solo version of John Lennon's "Imagine" is heartbreaking, which is hard to do with such an overplayed song. Ditto for "The Way You Look Tonight."

With transcendent piano playing, and Darek Oleszkiewicz's remarkable bass solos, these tunes are soothing, but also musically complicated enough to make each listen more enjoyable than the last.

-- Bettina Swigger

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