Interpol, Turn On the Bright Lights Yes, it sounds a lot like Joy Division, yes, the lyrics make less sense than old Beck ("The subway is a porno"? "Friends don't waste wine when there's words to sell."?). Did it bother you with Beck? Did you not like Joy Division? This is a compulsively-listenable CD, and as for the charge that they're just 80s recyclers, I'll quote the Boston Phoenix's Annie Zaleski:"It's in alluding to these bands that Interpol find their own charms — not as post-punk clones, but as preservers and extenders of a sound and an era."
Flaming Lips, Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots It would be better, perhaps, if this album were also about nothing, but let's be straight: it's mostly about Yoshimi, battling the pink robots. It's embarassing how much we like this album at work, and it's actually starting to get airplay as well. I got a bit burned by their last CD, The Soft Bulletin, which the critics loved but I found abrasive; it's perhaps a good sign that the critics are less overexcited about this one. Give in to the robots...
Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot Give in to the Tweedy. He and his bandmates have pared out the sort of extraneous annoying songs that pop up in their previous outings, and leave you with eleven amazing tracks that range from straight-ahead heartfelt ("I Am Trying to Break Your Heart") to strange-but-compelling-in-a-"Pyramid Song"-sort-of-way ("Poor Places"). And you, too, will fall in love with the drummer.
Cinerama, Torino The previous entries are all CDs that the moderately-hip will be well aware of, even if they haven't already bought them. Cinerama, on the other hand, still don't have the sort of following that they deserve, and I consider it an amazingly fortunate accident that I know about them at all. I've given their CDs to several people, and no one has failed to like them. Their latest is their best, an absolute triumph of pop-rock. Bandleader/singer/songwriter David Gedge specializes in songs about what you might call "lying in bed," and here, under the characteristically-tender touch of producer Steve Albini, he marries his sardonic, bitter humor to the sort of gale-force guitarwork that it's been craving all along. The music, in other words, aurally enacts the very emotions that underpin the lyrics.