Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Music in Brief

Merge already took care of the classic, noisier Dinosaur Jr. albums, and now Rhino is following suit with a pair of later, post-Lou Barlow discs, the untouchable classic Green Mind and its lesser-but-still-not-bad follow-up, Where You Been. The former, which features "The Wagon" as its mission statement, still sounds as crackling-fresh as it did in 1991, while the latter actually looks better from this distance than it did up close. Both albums add a few bonus tracks and new liner notes… A-/B

Speaking of bonus tracks, the reissues of the first five Jesus And Mary Chain albums have exactly zero. In fact, the new version of Psychocandy (Rhino) actually removes "Some Candy Talking," which had been tacked on to previous editions. Still, that disc, Automatic, and even the vastly underrated Honey's Dead deserve the deluxe treatment. No band since has captured a drug haze so tunefully. Stoned & Dethroned is pretty forgettable, but the rest surely aren't… B (cumulative)

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From the mind of Neil Hamburger (well, his real-life counterpart Gregg Turkington, anyway) comes The Golding Institute's Final Relaxation (Ipecac), a 30-minute monologue that offers to relax you… to death. The booklet even includes a "final will and testament," pre-filled to leave all of your possessions to The Golding Institute. You also agree that you died "solely through weakness of character and intellect." It's pretty hilarious—exactly once… B

Stuart Staples' instantly recognizable voice—deep, detached, perilously heartbreaking—unsurprisingly takes center stage on his U.S. solo debut, Leaving Songs (Beggars Banquet). (It's been handily packaged with his actual debut, Lucky Dog Recordings 03-04.) The Tindersticks frontman sheds some of the accoutrements of his large band, making his sadness even more palpable. It takes terrific songwriting to pull off this kind of mood well, and boatloads of Leonard Cohen comparisons aren't far off the mark… B+

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White Whale's pedigree is impressive, though not superstar-level: Singer Matt Suggs drifted through Pavement-lite band Butterglory in the '90s, and Rob Pope played with Koufax and The Get Up Kids. The new band's debut, WWI (Merge), mostly suffers the same fate as Suggs' solo records, though: It's pleasant and occasionally great, but mostly content to let indie-rock lethargy rule. B-

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