ALBUM REVIEWS

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The Independent Culture
A1 People "Fresh Juice" (Hydrogen Dukebox) A1 People forge chunky unashamed old-school electro beats from the synths of Matt Early and Simeon Bowring with the hip-hop scratching of DJ D-Zine. There's lots of wicked humour from a variety of guest vocalists and vocoders HHHH

Wheat "Medeiros" (Sugar Free) Gorgeously delicate and inventive observations of slacker life from a low-profile bunch. If you like any of Built to Spill, Flaming Lips, Grandaddy, Sebadoh, Sparklehorse, Pavement or even Spiritualized this should be on the priority shopping list. Blissful and beautiful without a weak track. HHHH

Esthero "Breath from Another" (Columbia/Work) The debut album by the Canadian duo of singer Esthero and producer Doc is ambitious. They meld hip-hop beats, acid jazz, classic rock, drum 'n' bass, R 'n' B, reggae and more into a beautiful coherent whole that switches through many different moods and complexions. HHHH

Emmylou Harris "Spyboy" (Grapevine) Comprising mostly familiar material from her 30-year career, Spyboy may not win her a whole new set of admirers but it's essential for any Emmylou fan. This live recording has a predominantly folkie feel but now and again the battling guitar of Buddy Miller breaks through and the band remain tight and cohesive. HHH

Puressence "Only Forever" (Island) The second album from these Mancunians starts off well, with the scorching guitars of "Sharpen Up The Knife" and the singles "This Feeling" and "It Doesn't Matter Anymore", but their sweeping melodic rock needs more interesting wrinkles to sustain a full 47 minutes of interest. HHH

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