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Duchess of Coolsville: An Anthology
She burst onto the scene in the late '70s with a beret and a new, jazzy take on the singer-songwriter idiom. In the years hence, Rickie Lee Jones has ranged from brilliant to misguided, She's been unable to either entrench herself in stardom or, like Joni Mitchell, carve out a niche as an influential deity. Those reservations aside, it's been quite a career for Ms. Jones, and Rhino has done a terrific job of compiling a heady smorgasbord of her work on three CDs: the first two chronicling studio songs (1979-2003), and the third an odds-and-sods disc of one-offs (including an obscure British 12-inch with The Blue Nile), live stuff and demos (among them "Young Blood," "Easy Money" and "Rodeo Girls").Jones' best work came on her first two LPs (Rickie Lee Jones and Pirates), where she deftly combined street poetry, jazz-infused vocal phrasing (which would later sometimes lapse into over-the-top affectation) and grabby girl-group pop. "Chuck E's in Love," her monster breakout hit, still holds a timeless appeal. "Company" is an aching torch ballad, "Coolsville" a simmering gem. But the hits quickly dried up, and Jones turned to more arty sounds and ambitious song forms, some of which worked ("Flying Cowboys," "Magazine"), some of which didn't ("Altar Boy," "Scary Chinese Move").It's all here on Duchess of Coolsville, with the successes far outnumbering the failures. At 50, Rickie Lee presumably has plenty of good music left in her (especially seeing as '03's The Evening of My Best Day was her best album in a while).Duchess puts a somewhat underappreciated artist's accomplishments into perspective. Jones blazed trails that opened up new avenues for many successful woman artists that followed. -ERIC SNIDER

Sincerity Is an Easy Disguise in This Business

The third full-length of all-new material from veteran Jacksonville metalcore (and Eulogy Recordings flagship) act Evergreen Terrace is far and away the band's most mature and accessible so far; highlights "New Friend Request" and "I Say You He Dead" are solid, energetic and catchy. Aside from an above-average talent for cohesively marrying brutal riffage to urgent, hooky choruses, however, there's not a whole lot that sets this quintet apart in its genre - other than a closing acoustic number and some interesting song titles. (www.eulogyrecordings.com) -SCOTT HARRELL


I'm pretty sure I slaughtered this L.A. quintet's debut back in 2000, and its long-delayed follow-up is exactly the sort of thing I love to hate - posed, derivative, snotty gutter-glam rock packed with alternately clichéd and inane lyrics and wholly predictable attitude. So why am I playing this album over and over? The songs. After a mediocre initial three-song warm-up, Band-Girls-Money reveals an energetic balance of familiar hooks and exciting arrangements that, with the possible exception of the endearingly cheesy "Startime," holds strong through the finale. 1/2-SCOTT HARRELL

Apertif for Destruction
Cheese and his hotel-bar cover/parody act Lounge Against The Machine - most widely known for a smarmed-out version of Disturbed's "Down with the Sickness," perfectly placed in last year's Dawn of the Dead remake - return to kick their very dead one-trick pony. There are a few laughs to be found here, most notably in versions of Alanis Morrisette's "You Oughta Know" and Bell Biv DeVoe's "Do Me," but the concept of screwed-up lounge versions of non-lounge songs wears out long before this CD stops spinning. Four words, Dick: try putting out singles. -SCOTT HARRELL

Once We Were Diamonds
The Diamond Nights will remind older fans of their record collection and younger fans of commercials for classic-rock radio. This is a solid EP, with the gloss and reverberating-sigh quota of glam but the crunch and sneer of plain rock. At this point, they could go in two logical directions: be the band known for really good fits of guitar-hero antiques, or make a concept album about outer space. It's too early to tell. (Diamond Nights play Ybor City's Orpheum on Sunday, July 31.) (www.kemado.com) -MATTHEW PLEASANT

Plays George Gerswhin: The American Soul

Blue Note
Those looking for modern, adventurous piano turn to Brad Mehldau. Those looking for grace and beauty in the Bill Evans mode instead enjoy Bill Charlap and his trio, who weigh in with another set of classic tunes, this time in tribute to George Gerswhin. Not much new aside from the rare "I Was So Young (You Were So Beautiful)," but the playing of sidemen Nicholas Payton on trumpet, Slide Hampton on trombone, Frank Wess on tenor and, especially, Phil Woods (on alto sax, notably on "Bess, You is My Woman Now") helps things along, even if it is probably the most delicate, understated session those guys have ever played. 1/2-WAYNE GARCIA

About The Author

Eric Snider

Eric Snider is the dean of Bay area music critics. He started in the early 1980s as one of the founding members of Music magazine, a free bi-monthly. He was the pop music critic for the then-St. Petersburg Times from ‘87-’93. Snider was the music critic, arts editor and senior editor of Weekly Planet/Creative...
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