Spins

Primus, Pernice Brothers, Women and Children

They Can't All Be Zingers

PRIMUS

Interscope

Along with Jane's Addiction, Faith No More and Red Hot Chili Peppers, Northern California's Primus were instrumental in bringing the more original sounds of the Alternative Nation to the mainstream during the early '90s. The trio's hard-edged, funk-derived grooves and cartoonish personality united metalheads, musicians, alt-rock fans and pedestrian clubgoers under the often mutually exclusive banners of maverick musical eccentricity and pure entertainment, and inspired a legion of lesser funk-metal posers.

Though the band hasn't been a radio ubiquity in over a decade, this 16-track best-of dutifully charts Primus' entire lifetime thus far, from its astonishing early tracks through the Sailing The Seas of Cheese/Pork Soda/Tales from the Punchbowl heyday to its less-acclaimed later efforts. The salad-days material still holds up well — the individuality and energy of "John The Fisherman," "Jerry Was A Race Car Driver" and "Tommy The Cat" are impossible to deny. But some of the subsequent tunes (particularly "Over the Falls" and "Mary the Ice Cube") come off as decidedly lackluster in comparison. Part of that vibe can be written off as the result of familiarity with the band's rhythm-heavy, character-driven trademark style; by Tales from the Punchbowl, we all knew what we were getting. That's not entirely it, however — even great later songs like "Over the Electric Grapevine" and "Southbound Pachyderm" showcase a streamlining and stretching-out of Primus' frenetic arrangements that kneecaps the weaker tracks. And while there are more clever, entertaining cuts than boring ones here, this disc's jokey name turns out to be more appropriate than some fans, given the acuity of hindsight, might've hoped. 3 stars —Scott Harrell

As If We Existed

SOL.ILLAQUISTS OF SOUND

Anti-

A wholesome public service announcement amidst the clamor of drugs and guns in so much hip-hop, the Orlando-based Sol.iLLaquists of Sound rap and sing about subjects like the destructive effects of malt liquor and smoking cigarettes. The group can come off as preachy, but it's tough to criticize them for addressing the topics they care about. And hey, why shouldn't hip-hop have its own straightedge contingent? Luckily, the Sol.iLLaquists really excel in the music department, with a combination of live instruments and hip-hop production that sounds so fresh and so clean that the lessons go down easy. 3.5 stars —Cooper Levey-Baker

Live A Little

PERNICE BROTHERS

Ashmont Records

The sixth album from killer New England chamber-pop outfit Pernice Brothers largely delivers the sublimely textured songcraft fans have come to expect, but lacks some of the heft of previous releases. Maybe that's the point; given its title and somewhat lighter vibe, the overwhelmingly Beatlesque Live A Little may be meant as a departure from previous weighty Pernice songs like "Baby in Two" (from '03's Yours, Mine & Ours). And tunes like the opener "Automaton," wistful "Somerville," upbeat "A Microscopic View" and taut "B. S. Johnson," among others, certainly hang with the best of the band's catalog. A little more heavy emotion would've made for a more diverse offering, however, and piano-driven exercises such as the back-to-back "Cruelty to Animals" and "Zero Refills" occasionally feel like a stiff breeze could've (should've?) blown 'em right off the track listing. 3.5 stars —SH

Paralyzed Dance, Tonight

WOMEN AND CHILDREN

Narnack

Women and Children is an American-Canadian-French foursome with a blurry-eyed, early-morning take on the amateurish indie-pop of bands like The Vaselines, The Pastels and Beat Happening. Paralyzed Dance, Tonight — the group's second full-length — is quieter and more country than those bands' efforts, laced with backyard acoustic instruments and rustic, soothing vocals. Listening in from start to finish, though, gets a bit monotonous after a while; the band hasn't quite written the impeccable material needed to grab your attention when the sound isn't doing it. 3 stars —CLB

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