MUSIC: ALBUM REVIEWS

Bran Van 3000: Glee (Parlophone) Strange name, and possibly the strangest album of the year, from video-maker turned pop-media terrorist Di Salvio. He collected together 20 Montreal musicians to create a chopped- up, speeded-up, genre-busting blend of trip-hop, hip-hop and ZZ Top, which should make Beck want to retire, forever. This is weird fruit, both for the low-attention-span MTV zombie and others who likes their artists very clever indeed. HHH

Caesar: No Rest for the Lonely (China) Playful without being cheesy, Amsterdam's Caesar are schooled in deft, inoffensive rock-pop - there are smiley melodies but no knockout punch. This is meat-and-two-veg stuff - fine as far as it goes, but with little after taste. H

Dr John: Anutha Zone (Parlophone, below) A new lease of life for the voodoo vibes of Dr John, as he's joined here by Spiritualized, Paul Weller, London Community Gospel Choir and funnily enough, Supergrass. Given that, it's totally coherent, straight-ahead, well-crafted blues - his pals perhaps helping the music sidestep over familiar paths. The atmosphere is gloriously swampy as his voice rises like a pungent curl of cigar smoke; this latest chapter of the gospel according to Dr John is a grand return. HHH

Brandy: Never Say Never (Atlantic) Brandy was a hardened music-biz veteran with a million-plus sales before she was even out of high school - so far so good. But this is pop R'n'B without the soul, and could see Brandy without a future in the adult big league. She's joined by fellow youngster Monica and rapper Mase, and her voice is pure honey, but she lacks real command of tracks like "Have You Ever", showing she's better at playing by the rules than anything else. HH

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