ATN Critic's Picks: Kembrew McLeod's Top 10 for 1996

Boundaries separating music genres are disappearing, notes McLeod.

1) Beck, Odelay (DGC):

While it's not the second coming like most critics would have you believe, it's

still a work of genius complete with eclectic song writing, stream of

consciousness lyrics, and Fantastic Five samples.

2) Cibo Matto, Viva!

La Woman (Warner Brothers): More proof that the boundaries of musical

genres are rapidly crumbling as we approach the 21st century, and the women of

Cibo Matto are in the front lines, kicking them in. "World music" for a

post-modern era.

3) DJ Shadow, Endtroducing (Mo Wax): Since his

ground breaking 20+ minute single "In/Flux" was released back in 1993, people

have been waiting for DJ Shadow's full length debut. The beats and atmospherics

are beautiful, creating constantly shifting moods and flavors that don't

disappoint.

4) Dr. Octagon, Dr. Octagon (Mo Wax): Hip Hop veteran

Kool Keith performs brain surgery with a rusty hatchet and a cattle prod. The

Automator and DJ Q-bert provide cloudy, claustrophobic beats we've come to

expect from Mo Wax.



5) Ghostface Killer, Ironman (Epic)/ Jeru the

Damaja, Wrath of the Math (Payday)/ Mobb Deep, Hell on Earth

(Loud) (Three-way tie): Producers The RZA, DJ Premier, and Havoc are creating a

new instrumental language for hip hop, which is built not on tired James Brown

or P-Funk samples, but instead on sonic innovation and paranoia. All three of

these albums are destined to be hip hop classics.

6) Willie Nelson,

Spirit (Island)/ Johnny Cash, Unchained (American) (Tie): OK, so

I couldn't make up my mind again. It's wonderful to hear Willie Nelson back in

top form, as no one's voice sounds quite like his. This time around he stripped

his music down much like Johnny Cash did for his American Recordings album a

couple years back. Cash follows up that album with a brilliant, more

fleshed-out work.

7) The Queers, Don't Back Down (Lookout!):

Completely addictive Ramones-inspired power pop/punk. Hands down the best album

of this genre in a quite a while.

8) Scud Mountain Boys,

Massachusetts (Sub Pop): Perhaps the saddest sounding record of the

1990s. Unlike many bands that sport that low key country-tinged sound, Joe

Pernice actually writes phenomenal songs, and this album is filled with

them.

9) Sun Ra, The Singles (Evidence): This collects the 45s Sun

Ra recorded from 1954 to 1981 under a variety of names and guises. Wanna hear

Sun Ra do blues, doo wop, dance music, and raunchy R&B in addition to his

wacked out jazz? If so, this one's for you.

10) Tricky, Pre-Millennium

Tension (Island): Tricky's official solo follow-up to his debut delivers

more than the first one even promised. Its mind-blowing production and menacing

textures make for the perfect soundtrack to social decay.

Plus:

*Best

Reissue: Coyle & Sharpe, On the Loose (2.13.61): Recorded before Candid

Camera, the Jerky Boys and a dozen other covertly recorded "pranks," these two

masters of the surreal put-on made and distributed these albums in the early

1960s. You must hear them convince a pharmacist they are trying to buy

"supplies" from, that one of them is going to perform open-heart surgery on the

other in their station wagon parked outside. Hilarious.

*Best Live Show:

Yoko Ono/Cibo Matto/John Zorn - Central Park, 4th of July Weekend: This summit

meeting of three generations of the lower east side pop underground created

musical sparks and provided vindication for Yoko Ono, whose musical ideas have

finally been absorbed and accepted. Worth seeing just for the trance-inducing

jam with Yoko and Sean Ono-Lennon, Adam Yauch, Russell Simmins, Cibo Matto and

John Zorn.