Pop/Jazz album reviews

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The Independent Culture
Ani DiFranco `Up Up Up Up Up' (Righteous Babe) While not as commercial as last year's Little Plastic Castles, DiFranco's 10th album in nine years, a live, meandering effort, should keep her fans satisfied. And, for those that bought the Alanis Morissette album and were disappointed, check out DiFranco now! HHH

The Hot Club of Cowtown `Swingin' Stampede' (Hightone) The swing craze in the US takes on a cowpoke dimension as these young Austinites embrace the western swing style made famous by fellow Texan Bob Wills in the 1930s. Their take on it is both authentic and fresh with heartfelt vocalising. HHH

Satisfact `The Third Meeting at the Third Counter' (K Records) The third album from this Olympia, Washington quartet mixes hardcore with unexpected textures reminiscent of Joy Division or Slint. If the so-called "post-rock" movement left you a little unmoved this punky cousin could be the answer. HHH

Temple of Sound `Black Orchid' (Schtumm) Ex-Transglobal Underground members Neil Sparkes and Count Dubullah weigh in with a new project in the big beat fold, with added layers of Latin percussion and occasional Asian interventions. When they hit a groove it's great, but they spend a little too much time being weird and clever just for the sake of it. HH

The Unconscious Collective `Bird & Tambourine' (Pearls for Swine) A low-budget album by a low-profile band from Greenwich, which delicately creates a sound of beauty. Think of Lullaby for the Working Class with urban sass, Beck on a complete rural trip, or Townes van Zandt in a late- night encounter with the Beasties. Very promising. HHH


Fatboy Slim `Praise You' (Skint) Yet another big tune from one of the artists of '98. One of the best tracks of his latest album, "Praise You" is a subtle celebration of Americana mashed up with fat beats. There's also a new remix of "The Rockafeller Skank" included. HHHH