CD reviews for May 20

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Yo La Tengo

"Prisoners of Love: A Smattering of Scintillating Songs 1985-2003"

Available at All That Jazz for $22.98

We knew it was coming. Three CDs with more than 40 songs by the band you either love with a raw-knee devotion or you hate.

I put Yo La Tengo in the CD player for one of my favorite music-listening buddies, and he immediately said, "Turn this crap off."

My face dropped. There are few bands I like better than this one.

To review a compilation album is a little ridiculous. It's less a review of the band than a review of the record label's ability to repackage and market.

First: the packaging. I'm a sucker for packaging, and this one looks like it was designed to be on a 12-inch record jacket.

Second: The third disc is full of never-before released and rare material for the uber nerdy Yo fan.

Well played, Matador Records. Mining through the archives, repackaging and reselling is something that record companies are getting good at.

The reason most people buy box sets and compilation CDs is for the "previously unreleased" material. How many times will I fall for that marketing ploy before I realize it's a waste of money?

Sift through the pile of poorly recorded and half-written songs, and you soon realize there was a reason it was never released.

After a thorough sifting of Disc 3, I enjoyed the opening track, "Stay Away from Heaven," which combines the whining of a children's Fisher-Price farm toy with guitar playing that sounds like someone tearing down a house with a chainsaw. That track alone might be worth the $22.

Rated: Compilation albums always smell like death to me.

Weezer

"Make Believe"

Available at All That Jazz for $15.98

It's 7 a.m. To get me out of bed, I need the kind of music they played to get us pumped at football games.

It's 5 p.m. I accidentally ended up in that traffic jam of people heading from Steamboat Springs toward Hayden and Craig. I need some upbeat music to make sitting in the fumes of the car in front of me feel fun and exciting.

It's 10 p.m. I need someone to get me excited to go out, and I don't have time for a glass of champagne in the shower, as recommended by Cosmopolitan.

It's Weezer time.

The band's new album, "Make Believe," opens with the popular single "Beverly Hills." This album is "punk rock" in the latest Green Day vein. It's not original, but it's catchy. It has a great beat and works wonders if you're feeling worn down and tired. It's best played at a high volume and without too much attention to the details. If you try to listen too closely, you'll end up listening to "Beverly Hills," "This is Such a Pity" and "Freak Me Out" all the way through and then pressing the skip button half way through most of the other tracks.

Rated: But don't let me tell you what to do.

Ween

"12 Golden Country Greats"

Available at All That Jazz for $17.99

This one was released awhile ago. Not quite the stone ages, but close -- 1996. Ween was different then. I picked this album up for two reasons. One, I'd been enjoying Cracker's "Countrysides" interpretation of country music and, two, because I never picked this Ween album when it was released, I thought it would be fun to hear wacky Ween's exploration of the genre.

What did I expect? First, it was Ween in the 1990s. I expected it to be funny. I expected it to be weird. It was neither.

Maybe this is a different Ween, I kept thinking. As I listened, I picked up the CD jacket several times to see whether I'd read the name wrong.

Maybe they put the CD in the wrong jacket. Then I reached "Piss up a Rope," and there they were again. The squealing, take-nothing-seriously, oddball Ween I know and love. I relaxed.

Because I was paying attention to something else in 1996, I have no idea how this album went over. I don't know anyone who owns it, and I imagine that not many people do.

The music is too country for rock fans and too quirky alternative for country fans.

The sound is as sincere as any fiddle-and-slide-guitar country you might here coming from an old man's pickup, but the lyrics are completely ridiculous.

It's a celebration and a send-up of country all at once.

Rated: It takes a sense of humor to like this one. You probably will hate it.

-- Autumn Phillips

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