Five Spot

New alt-pop, trip-hop, alt-country CDs

Supreme Beings of Leisure Supreme Beings of Leisure Palm Pictures

The Baby Namboos Ancoats2zambia Palm Pictures

TWO NEW RELEASES from Palm Pictures reveal a split in British dance pop. The self-titled debut from Supreme Beings of Leisure is techno-retro world-lounge-pop, while the Baby Namboos’ debut, Ancoats2zambia, is classic dark and brooding Bristol trip-hop. The model for both is steamy, steady beats and sonic twists offset by languorous female vocals. S.B. of L. lean largely on popular drum ‘n’ bass grooves, which they punctuate with flutes, strings, and Eastern melodicism. They’re more pop-savvy Berlin than edgy Breakbeat Era, as they follow their one purely trip-hop cut with a blast of house-heavy disco. Conversely, the Baby Namboos follow their one crisp drum ‘n’ bass track with two strange and wildly different remixes of the title track. Trip-hop meister Tricky is an active collaborator, so the Baby Namboos are naturally haunted and brittle. Each disc has its place: S.B. of L. booming on a huge and shiny dance floor, the Baby Namboos moaning when you’re alone after midnight wondering what the hell to do. Karl Byrn

Julie Miller Broken Things HighTone

WARM, INVITING, earthy, innocent, and sweetly enchanting, Miller’s distinctive voice is suggestive of a folkier, bluesier Cyndi Lauper. Broken Things, the singer-songwriter’s sixth album, features poignant, stirring lyrics and an overall theme of heartbreak. Broken Things includes cameos by notables Patty Griffin, Steve Earle, and Victoria Williams; silvery songbird Emmylou Harris (who has recorded several of Miller’s tracks) even joins Miller on the impassioned dirge “Two Soldiers.” Miller’s “Ride the Wind” is a spirited love song, and “I Need You” (“I need something like morphine only better/ I need something like a kiss that lasts forever”) is an edgy rocker. Then there’s the haunting, sorrowful cello on the aching “I Still Cry.” Miller may never become a household name, but this album is absolutely exquisite. Sarah Quelland

The Walkabouts Trail of Stars Glitterhouse

COMPARISONS to Portishead are inevitable, and this little-known Seattle band is certainly haunting and elegiac. Tales of poisoned love dominate these 11 tracks. Virtually unknown in the States, the Walkabouts have sold more than 100,000 CDs in Europe, thanks to two releases on the Virgin U.K. label. Still, you may already know the dark romanticism of singer-songwriters Chris Eckman and Carla Torgeson through their work with the Tindersticks. The rest of the current lineup includes keyboardist Glenn Slater, drummer Terri Moeller, and former John Zorn bassist Fred Chalenor. Producer Phil Brown (who is responsible for Talk Talk’s classic Spirit of Eden) provided a huge influence. A minimalist return after 1996’s orchestral Devil’s Road (recorded with the Warsaw Philharmonic) and 1997’s string-driven Nighttown. Greg Cahill

Bell Book & Candle Read My Sign Turbo Beat/Atlantic

IT’S TAKEN 13 years for this Berlin pop band to get its break in the States, but this debut album already is drawing critical acclaim. Billboard editor-in-chief Timothy White recently opined that the CD “is one of the finest pop releases from Europe in years.” The first single, “Rescue Me (Let Your Amazement Grow),” is in rotation on KRSH (98.7FM). Raven-haired singer Jana Gross draws comparisons to Cranberries vocalist Dolores O’Riordan, though Gross’ keening vocals are far less affected. But don’t brush Bell Book & Candle off as just another Euro-pop band–this outfit often echoes the pioneering electronica of Tangerine Dream and can deliver haunting alt-pop reminiscent of the best 4AD bands. G.C.

From the February 24-March 1, 2000 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

© Metro Publishing Inc.

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