Pop: album reviews

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The Independent Culture
Built To Spill `Keep It Like A Secret (City Slang) Unfortunately, this Idaho-based band will probably still be a well-kept secret even after this album of the warmest-ever pop music. In "The Plan" and "Sidewalk" we are graced with some of the juiciest BTS cuts ever made, which fans of Sebadoh and Pavement should check out asap. HHH

Karamasov `On Arrival' (Satellite) Following on from finding Scott 4 and Add N To X, the Soho-based Satellite introduce more new talent in the form of these Anglo-German aural doodlers. Their undulating instrumentals, with inventive percussive moves, are a slow-burning grower. HHH

Q-Burns Abstract Message `Feng Shui' (Astralwerks) Orlando maverick Q-Burns is a big name on the US club circuit and those who love the likes of David Holmes and the Chem Bros will soon embrace him. Q-BAM produces an album that surpasses the efforts of any of the French posse. HHHH

Smog `Knock Knock' (Domino) The tiny Domino label follows Bonnie "Prince" Billy's classic album of last week with another absolute stormer. This is Smog's (aka Bill Callahan) sixth album and their very best with Callahan in a lighter, happier mood, replacing introspection with cathartic songs which deserve to be played to death on the radio. An essential CD. HHHH

Various Artists `Nings and Roundabouts' (Fierce Panda) For the past four years, Fierce Panda has been releasing many bands that get signed by majors. This compilation from '95/'97 sees the likes of Placebo, Kenickie and 3 Colours Red at their rawest, before blandness set in. Surprisingly good and at under a tenner, a nice keepsake. HHH


Llama Farmers `Big Wheels' (Beggar's Banquet) Not their strongest song, but the Greenwich teens tip their hat to good ole Dinosaur Jr. Great powerful guitar pop from a band who are thankfully on a label which will let them develop their full potential rather than heaping hype upon them. HHH