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The Independent Culture
The Herbaliser `Very Mercenary' (Ninja Tune) Sixty-nine pretty mad minutes of vocal samples, in-yer-face bass, screwed-up jazz, stoner hip-hop, sleazy grooves, chilling beats, guest appearances from What What, Blade and the Dream Warriors, and much, much more. HHHH

Buckcherry - `Buckcherry' (DreamWorks) Hedonistic raunchy rock hasn't had a standard bearer since Guns N' Roses faded, but this LA quintet look set to fill the role. Part AC/DC and the Black Crowes, part Iggy and the Sex Pistols, they're loud and proud to be degenerate in the old skool way. HHH

Robert Cray Band `Take Your Shoes Off' (Rykodisc) A new label and a new turn of style for bluesman Cray as he takes up the baton to bring southern soul into the late 1990s. Cray's beautiful voice - a Green/Cooke/Redding hybrid - fits the role and though it does tend to be a little slow at times, this 11th album is a resounding success. HHH