POP: ALBUM REVIEWS

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The Independent Culture
Webb Brothers `Beyond the Biosphere' (Mews 5/Warners)

These songs were originally intended as a demo, but they're so good that big old Warners slapped them out as a calling card for the talented sons of legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb. Soaring poppy rock with a spacey feel. HHHH

Hefner `The Fidelity Wars' (Too Pure)

Darren Hayman's estuary screech is not everyone's taste in vocals, but give it a chance and it's the perfect tool with which to narrate poignant, and often hilarious, observations of incidents in relationships, while the band bang away like a punky Modern Lovers. HHHH

Public Enemy `There's A Poison Goin' On' (PIAS)

More like there's a degree of complacency goin' on as Chuck's political raps just seem a little lazy this time round and even the turntablism is below their usual standard. However, this is still well worth the money. HHH

Various Artists `Return of the Grievous Angel - A Tribute To Gram Parsons' (Almo Sounds)

Curated by Emmylou Harris (right), this is a better than average tribute even if most of the takes are safe and reverential. However, the Mavericks and Wilco offer inventive twists and Lucinda Williams is superb on the title track. HHH

Ben Vaughn `A Date With Ben Vaughn' (Shoeshine)

Best known for the Third Rock From The Sun theme and producing Ween, Vaughn has been around the American underground for years and this mini-album of new songs combines dancey licks with roots sentiments - like a more exciting Chris Isaak. HHH

SINGLE OF THE WEEK

Damien Jurado `Letters & Drawings' (Rykodisc)

Edited from his stunning Rehearsals For Departure album, this track is a comparative stomper for the streetwise writer signed to Sub Pop in his native US. A work of beauty that fills a gap between Elliott Smith and Wilco. HHHH

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