Nik’s Piks For Ninety-Sihks – Column

Nik’s Piks For Ninety-Sihks

by Nik Rainey

1. Stereolab Emperor Tomato Ketchup (Elektra) – I’m tempted to call this the best retro-techno concoction to come out of the ‘lab yet, but they’ve released so damn many of them, I wouldn’t want to gloss over some obscure limited-edition-of-three release available only on 8-track in Croatia and blow my critical cred forever. So I’ll just say it’s their best album with a condiment in the title and leave it at that.

2. The Loud Family Interbabe Concern (Alias) – Arcane, convoluted, manic-depressive, off-kilter, self-indulgent… pop music at its very finest. Scott Miller is the fractal overlord of goose-pimple glory.

3. The Lilys Better Can’t Make Your Life Better (Ché/Primary) – Got the title wrong first time around and the label affiliation changed between advance tape and official release… no matter. Neo-flower power pop by any other name would jangle just as sweet. Acid-Byrd wonderment in a freshly-blown mind bottle.

4. Robyn Hitchcock Moss Elixir/Mossy Liquor (Warner Bros.) – Even if it wasn’t the triumphant reclamation of the Duke of Prawns’ absurdist throne, this would merit inclusion for the best chorus of the year: “I said Caroline/ There’s no need to spell it backwards/That’s Enilorac.”

5. The Fall The Light User Syndrome (Jet) – Inevitable fixtures on my year-end top-whatever lists, the Fall are one of the few bands of any epoch never to have made an album not worth owning, and this ‘un is no different. Whenever Mark E. Smith rants, I rave. Good work-uh.

6. Prolapse backsaturday (Jetset) – The band’s name refers to the medical term for one’s bowels heading southward, an apt (if indelicate) analogy for the sounds of Prolapse as all of the music they’ve collectively ingested (from Joy Division to the Magnetic Fields, from Stereolab on a bad day to the Fall on a good one) whooshes out in a spasm of delirium. Messy, yes, but surprisingly sweet-smelling.

7. The Cardigans Life (Minty Fresh) – You ever get those vanilla-cream-filled donuts from Dunkin’ (rest of company name deleted to avoid corporate sellout accusations)? Imagine eating a dozen of them in one sitting, and feeling that combination of a heavy sucrose rush and a gut-level combination of guilt, indigestion, and deep, naughty satisfaction. That’s essentially what this chipper pop album does to me, cute sleeve photos, ebullient Swedeness, Eurovision-style Sabbath covers and all. And I’m not sharing. Get your own.

8. Merzbow Pulse Demon/Masonna Inner Mind Mystique (both Release) – We dropped the big one on Japan in ’45. Now they’re returning the favor.

9. The Frogs My Daughter The Broad (Matador) – What if pre-Ziggy Bowie got his hands on some crack (umm… the drug, too), didn’t take himself so seriously, and decided to go out and offend everybody? I don’t know, either, but this is really good folked-up skeeze. Future Muzak standard: “Grandma Sitting In The Corner With A Penis In Her Hand Going `No, No, No’.”

10. Do I Really Have To Choose (Between) – Nick Cave Murder Ballads (Mute/Elektra), Nirvana From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah (DGC) [I’m never letting my little brother write reviews again], Guided by Voices Under the Bushes Under the Stars (Matador), Beck Odelay (DGC), Home X (Emperor Jones/Trance Syndicate)/XI: Elf:: Gulf Bore Waltz (Jetset), Posies Amazing Disgrace (DGC), Chevy Heston Come to Sterilized (CherryDisc), Furry Things The Big Saturday Illusion (Trance Syndicate), Various Artists Sides 1-4 (Skin Graft)? Geez, Sophie had an easier choice than this.