CD reviews for Jan. 21

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The Cure
"The Cure"
Available at All That Jazz for $17.98

Tell me what you listened to in high school and I'll tell you when you grew up, what you looked like and who you hung out with. I'll stereotype you right, left and center, especially if you were the type of person who loved The Cure.

As for me, the anthems of my high school years were Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus" and R.E.M.'s "Shiny Happy People." Those were also the years of riding the chairlift with my best friend and singing/screaming The Cure's "Just One Kiss."

My editor walked by my desk this week and saw a copy of The Cure's new self-titled album. He picked it up for a second and said, "What? Are we 12?"

And in a way he's right. It took me awhile to comprehend that The Cure was back on the scene. It was even stranger to see those pictures of Robert Smith, looking just like he did when I "knew" him. (No. Really. E-X-A-C-T-L-Y.)

I put the new CD in the stereo wondering: Is this an album for those of us who loved The Cure all those years ago? Or is this an album for another generation of melancholy adolescents.

Robert Smith's voice came on during the first track, "Lost," and it was like stepping through a portal back to my bedroom in high school. The door was closed, and I was lying on the bed staring at the ceiling.

But things really started to feel creepy during the song "Labyrinth" when Smith starts singing, "Say it's the same you / Say it's the same you and it's always been like this ... It's not the same you / No it never was like this / It's not the same you and it never really is." I put "The Cure" away with the same feeling I get when I see a childhood friend. It was fun to remember, but a lot has changed, and I feel a little guilty dwelling on the past.

This is a good album. The songs are just as catchy, in an "I'm black on the outside because I'm black on the inside" kind of way, as they always were. But I think I'll listen to this album with the windows rolled up in my car, so no one knows that a part of me is still that person I was when Robert Smith first sang to me more than a decade ago.

Rated: I repeat myself.

Deep Banana Blackout

"Live In the Thousand Islands ..."

Available at All That Jazz for $16.98

Sometimes you discover a band on accident -- stupid accident. This was me at the record store: I was running late for my 4 Points deadline, and I was fingering through the CDs as fast as I could looking for something that I wanted to review/hear. And it was because I was in a hurry that a misfired synapse tricked me into picking up this Deep Banana Blackout album. In my rush, I saw the album and thought of the Japanese band Melt-Banana.

"Oh. I like these guys." And I threw it in my pile. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Once I had it in the CD player, it took me one measure to realize what I'd done, and suddenly I was like someone buried alive, clawing at the top of my coffin to get out. But it was too late. I had to listen.

Writing for 4 Points, I'll admit that I've become cynical about "funk" bands. It's hard to tell one from another sometimes, and even the definition of "funk" has become clouded because anyone with a Hammond organ and a horn section thinks they're "funky." But once I got past track one, I realized something. This band is good, and every track is different. By the end of "Live In The Thousand Islands ..." I'd been taken on a journey past classical Latin guitar solos, slow, sweaty honky tonk horn solos and something near gospel, all from lawn-mowed Connecticut kids. Hmmmm.

Rated: Not Japanese, but happenese.

Death Cab for Cutie

"We have the facts and we're voting yes"

Available at All That Jazz for $15.98

Sometimes you pick up an album for one track, and that's how this CD ended up in my hand and on this page. I saw track 4, "Lowell, MA." Call me a sucker for Kerouac. As a teenager living in Casper, Wyo., my friends and I would secretly drive all the way to Denver to hang out at Muddy's Coffee Shop just because Jack Kerouac mentioned it in "On the Road." Our little Wyoming eyes bugged out as we looked around at the super cool hipsters, the charcoal nude sketches on the walls and sawdust on the floor. Things haven't changed.

But just as the Muddy's we visited had nothing to with Kerouac, track 4 has nothing to do with our beat generation hero as far as I could tell. This song is actually about Massachusetts.

Above all, this album is "lovely." Yes, that's a good way to describe it. It's just lovely. It's soft and cuddly. It's pastel. It's pop. And if that's what you like -- sad, soft, spinning in a field in a summer dress -- this is for you.

Rated: Love the CD jacket.

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