INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Nothing We Can Control (Overcoat) The debut LP from this Glasgow band is lightweight in all the right places. Songs blithely float about

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CD Reviews

INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Nothing We Can Control (Overcoat) The debut LP from this Glasgow band is lightweight in all the right places. Songs blithely float about without a care in the world, changing from one cut to the next on little more than an added organ or airy computer beat; guitars mimic pussycats more than they do axes; the occasional vocals sound almost conversationally casual. Indeed, the record seems more appropriate for a spring release than a fall one; although, attentive followers of indie-pop probably assume by now that in International Airport's home terminal, the weather is permanently mild and the people universally sloppy-haired, friendly, careless, charming. This is the impression painted by fellow Glaswegians Belle and Sebastian as well as the Pastels—the more seasoned, though less famous, group from whom B&S learned its tricks, and which includes principal International Airporters Tom Crossley and Annabel Wright among its members. As diehard lightweight contenders, Crossley and Wright do not aspire to the heights of those other bands. But the pair, joined by seven others in what must be the largest bedroom in Scotland, are onto something. Focusing equally on gentle pop songs and wispish electronic-tinged instrumentals lets the band point to a sizable range of like-minded contemporaries. These include Adventures in Stereo ("Moving Water"), Yo La Tengo ("Remnant Kings"), Stereolab (the jazzy "De Merging Van Bruin en Groen"), and Mouse on Mars ("A Vale of Twisted Serdal"). Smoothly skipping across genres while never overstating its case, this record achieves an inarguable sense of calm, class, and, of course, cool.—Jay Ruttenberg

MYSTIKAL, Let's Get Ready (Jive) Once the best—nay, the only—good rapper on Master P's No Limit Records, Mystikal sounds like Busta Rhymes with Tourette's syndrome. His previous albums for that label were wonders of nature—all vocal violence, all the time, atop bluntly thumping tracks by the aptly named No Limit house production team Beats by the Pound. Now, P's star rapper has abandoned ship and has left the also departed Beats crew behind, as well. On Let's Get Ready, Mystikal's music is made by a handful of producers, most notably the Neptunes and Earthtone III, who offer subtler shades of thud for him to shadowbox with, and the result is both varied and consistent. Sure, he's as belligerent and dirty-mouthed as ever—e.g., the hit single "Shake Ya Ass," a straight tribute to mid-'60s James Brown in which the rapper exhorts, "Bend over, ho, show me what you're workin' with." But he's also relaxed some, even going so far as not to scream himself raw all the time. Occasionally, he even sounds sort of like a regular person! He's also funny as hell—Myst's call-and-response with a female chorus on the kinfolk-celebrating "Family" suggests that he honed his comic timing during science class filmstrips. The album-closing "Neck Uv da Woods," which features Outkast, even suggests that he's open to innovating his sound further. Just what Mystikal needs: to get even wilder.—Michaelangelo Matos

CHRISTIAN VOGEL, Rescate 137 (Novamute) Learned DJ Christian Vogel tries to outsmart dance music with Rescate 137, his first album for Mute Records' imprint Novamute. Though a few tracks pulse with a muscular rhythm that could please a wide audience of ravers, Vogel—who studied 20th century music at Brighton's University of Sussex—aims at something more ethereal than mere body movement, and this is perhaps his least dance-oriented album. But unlike ambient experimentalists Aphex Twin or Mouse on Mars, his music lacks a delicate touch—the fragile, beautiful sense for song craft that makes their work exceptional. This leaves Vogel wallowing somewhere in a musical no-man's-land. Then again, is music so simple that it must be either melodious and sentimental or booming and danceable? Vogel's aesthetic becomes more alluring with time, as he paints quirky rhythms and grooves with the seemingly unlimited textures on his palate. His album is most successful with the final tracks, in which he pulls out the stops for unabashed beat experimentalism, culminating with the 10-minute finale, a sort of beat-based free jazz meandering. Like free jazz, his mastery of form is never in doubt, and any point of entry is obscured. The album is for people who'd rather think about beats than dance to them.—Will Comerford

ASHTRAY BABYHEAD, Radio (Glue Factory) Any benign baby seal would surely volunteer to be bludgeoned live from Times Square at Super Bowl halftime so I could prove how irreparably damaging music like this is to the world. Revolution must occur until this country is free of godless Weezer disciples droning about selling out, listening to M�y Cre, their girlfriend's being the bomb, and being my fucking cosmonaut. This band softens and cuddles every classic, jagged punk riff they get their hands on into harmless ether. If only the PMRC could join forces with the NEA to sweep the sea and slap warning labels on posturing indie offenders: "Beware. Nothing remotely unique contributed to rock and roll's four-chord, verse-chorus-verse format"; "Street corner philosopher irony contained within"; "Will shoot MTV- friendly concept video with members wearing too-tight, horizontal-striped dress shirts and Indiana Jones-like three-day facial growth." Still, I'm tempted to sort of recommend this, just because the deep, intrinsic thoughtfulness of the name "Ashtray Babyhead" has inspired me to quit the journalism biz and take my one-man burlesque performance of Catcher in the Rye to Broadway . . . or the Spice Channel.—Andrew Bonazelli

Ashtray Babyhead play Graceland Wednesday, November 8.

 
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