ALEX GOPHER, You, My Baby & I (Solid/V2) Just when you think there couldn't possibly be room for another Frenchman on the dance floor, along

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Alex Gopher, A Tribe Called Quest, and Starflyer 59

ALEX GOPHER, You, My Baby & I (Solid/V2) Just when you think there couldn't possibly be room for another Frenchman on the dance floor, along comes one whose funk is so thick, it takes several hours of frenetic, body-jarring maneuvers to clear the system. Alex Gopher is a former compadre of the folks from Air, though his solo debut, You, My Baby & I, reveals a much healthier appetite for all things funk, as evidenced from the outset; "Time," the first track, opens muffled, then quickly builds up with a tongue-wagging bass lick, followed closely by former P-Funker Michael Payne's whispered, come-hither missives. It's just the beginning of this strange, fabulous ride that does a beeline between the club and lounge, then back again. "Tryin'" is entrancing, but not trance; rather, it's a tantric, soulful house that is eminently contemporary yet redolent of the reasons house mattered so much a decade ago. On "The Child," Billie Holiday gets the rework treatment, while "Ralph & Kathy" features dialogue filtered through a vocoder ("You are never alone/I am your computer and I am with you"), that, on the decks of another, might be naff, but is instead simultaneously melancholic and enticing. Indeed, Gopher is paradigmatic of the new French aesthetic—embracing potentially hackneyed forms and executing them well, and without irony. On "Time," Gopher crashes in with '70s rock guitars and, miraculously, they're not cheesy at all. Inhale.—Jon Caramanica

A Tribe Called Quest,The Anthology (Jive) With a couple of classic albums and a shitload of standout singles, guessing the quality of a collection of the Native Tongues' smoothest sons is a no-brainer. Except not even 1991's classic The Low End Theory or its nearly-as-good follow-up, 1993's Midnight Marauders, could have prepared me for the impact of listening to these songs back-to-back: a dozen-strong avalanche of hell-yeah! masterworks, followed by a half-dozen really, really good ones, followed by Q-Tip's neck-snapping new solo joint "Vivrant Thing." The Anthology is also an undeniable argument for Tribe as one of the best singles bands of the '90s. For all Tribe's hip-hop cred, they never sold big, despite pushes from the multiplatinum Beastie Boys and Q-Tip's ubiquitous cameos, particularly on high-profile hits by the Beasties, Deee-Lite, and Janet Jackson. But go ahead—try and pick a favorite verse. Or the most effervescent vocal. (OK, OK, that's Tip's stoned-slurred "If the Papes Come.") Or is picking a favorite superfluous with a cornucopia this abundant?—Michaelangelo Matos

STARFLYER 59, Everybody Makes Mistakes (Tooth & Nail) It's funny how from Florida's fishnet metal ranks to the bent, psychedelic rock of the Sonoran Desert, too much vitamin D obviously gives musician types their own brand of seasonal affective disorder. Starflyer 59 craftsman Jason Martin spent his adolescence picking through the "M" sections of his hometown record stores in Orange County, California, looking for My Bloody Valentine imports as if they were priceless antiques. But with each successive record, Martin tempers his moody Brit-pop chimes, using them as a foundation for sunburned compositions that indulge in equal amounts of twang and firefly pop. Everybody Makes Mistakes sparkles with Jeff Cloud's undeniable, New Order-influenced basslines ("No New Kinda Story"), while Martin's guitar buzzes with tentative country longings ("My Name"). The opposite poles make for a pleasing, gleefully atmospheric record. Jaunty opener "Play the C Chord" may be a jab at today's single-oriented bands, but its slide-filled hum recalls the biting glory of groups like Acetone and Rex. Still, Martin's hunger for layers and distortion peeks through in all the right places: Glowing ballads like "20 Dollar Bills" and "The Party" provide helpful resting spots between the rhythmic doses. Happy or not, Martin's trio has finally found its personal claim in Americana.—Kristy Ojala

 
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