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The Independent Culture
Peter Bruntnell `Normal For Bridgwater' (Slow River/Rykodisc) ) The English songwriter's third album sees him veer down the road (with help from two members of Son Volt). If this collection doesn't get him widespread recognition, then the world's an ugly place. A true and beautiful gem. HHHH

Ozomatli `Ozomatli' (Almo Sounds)

The LA 10-piece (featuring two members of Jurassic 5) exuded goodtime vibes wherever they went on their short UK tour recently and this major-label debut offers their fusion of Latino and hip-hop as the sound of the summer. This is party music with a difference. HHHH

El Nino `Galaxy Class' (Ignition)

This first album from the Indiana band is ambitious in its scope. Mainly melodic indie rock, it embraces various emotions, taking in elements of the Lemonheads as well as being infused with a decidedly British feel. A record that grows, meaning El Nino should be around for a while. HHH

Fountains of Wayne `Utopia Parkway' (east/west)

The cracking singles "Denise" and "Red Dragon Tattoo" show this powerpop quartet at their best. While there are other very fine tracks here, as a whole this album meanders and lacks the depth of, say, Matthew Sweet. HHH

Man or Astroman? `Eeviac' (Touch & Go)

The prolific and funny MoA? are from another planet - as they try to tell us - so to judge their space/surf punk against the work of mere Earthlings is unfair. But Eeviac lacks the spark of their other albums, muddled with experimentation that often doesn't click. HH


First Born `The Mood Club' (Independiente)

Eclipsing other big releases this week by Baz "Sunscreen" Luhrmann and The Chemical Brothers is this gem of rhythmically-pounding Northern Soul sounds from ex-Marxman Oisuin Lunny. Sounding more like a mix than a single, it's one for everyone, especially fans of David Holmes. HHHH