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Rock - Released April 18, 2006 | Work

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Pop/Rock - Released July 13, 1999 | Work

Protein demonstrates its advancing musical and compositional skills on its sophomore album, Songs About Cowgirls, which blends bright, poppy harmony vocals with energetic guitar rock, lumbering metallic riffs, and ironic, smartass humor which some will find refreshingly lighthearted and others will find smug and annoying. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 1, 1999 | Work

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Pop - Released May 25, 1999 | Work

The debut by the Canadian four-piece LEN is a set of old-school tracks indebted to Sugar Hill Records and Afrika Bambaataa as well as more recent indie-rap agitators like the Beastie Boys. While the rapping is a bit stilted, the production is excellent and best heard on the first track, the monster hit "Steal My Sunshine," a bright slice of indie-pop with an old-school guitar loop and a suitably bumping bassline. For all of the great tracks here, it's difficult to escape the feeling that You Can't Stop the Bum Rush is a low-rent version of the Beastie Boys' 1998 album Hello Nasty -- Biz Markie makes a few appearances as he did with the Beasties, and master turntablist Mr. Dibbs takes the role of Mix Master Mike with major contributions to one (very short) track. Still, the album's few derivative qualities never really get in the way of an enjoyable listen. © John Bush /TiVo
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Pop - Released May 4, 1999 | Work

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Pop/Rock - Released April 20, 1999 | Work

Former Different World actress and Lenny Kravitz musical protégé, Cree Summer addresses both her Canadian Indian roots and her oneness with earth (covering both the personal and universal obligations of her singer-songwriter role) on her debut album, Street Faerie. But even with those foregone topics in place, it all comes off sounding a little too much like hippie-dazed philosophizing caked in neo-psychedelic rhetoric. Producer Kravitz keeps his usual retrogazing to a minimum here, allowing Street Faerie to breathe in its own organic surroundings and to develop a style more reserved than on any of his own recordings. Summer herself ably blends R&B and alt-rock, yet the album excels in neither, eventually leaving its author, and the listener, to walk away with an indifferent shrug. © Michael Gallucci /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 2, 1998 | Work

The debut by one-time dancer and choreographer Morley Kamen is an impressive one that infuses her melodic brand of adult pop with folk, world, and jazz. Exhibiting great maturity and articulating self-awareness on Sun Machine's 11 songs, the native New Yorker's initial effort finds her working with a production team of Hod David (who had penned songs for Maxwell) and ex-Fishbone member Chris Dowd. Morley's dusky voice is captivating and complimented by the uncluttered arrangements on songs like the sparse "Who Do You Love" and the sultry "When I Love You." Elsewhere, strings contribute to the airy delights of "Just Like You" and "Sins of Reason," while the shimmering "Slingshots" is the standout, featuring an effective, yearning vocal performance. N'Dea Davenport (of the Brand New Heavies) makes an appearance, adding background vocals to "Desert Flowers," which has a light funk feel to it. Like a synthesis of Joni Mitchell and Sade, Morley's Sun Machine is well worth a listen for fans of cool, intelligent pop. © Tom Demalon /TiVo
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Pop - Released July 13, 1998 | Work

Eagle-Eye Cherry's debut album, Desireless, was an impressive set of eclectic alternative folk-rock; its radio hit, "Save Tonight," was arguably one of the best songs of the decade. The title track is a reworking of a song by his father, jazz great Don Cherry. Other standout tracks include "When Mermaids Cry," "Conversation," and "Falling in Love Again." A strong, diverse debut signifying the arrival of a major new talent. © JT Griffith /TiVo
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Pop - Released June 2, 1998 | Work

Boasting big, bold pop production that suggests the anthemic-but-personable sound of Natalie Imbruglia, Siren bursts out of the speakers with a giddy rush of emotion. But Heather Nova's not one to wail stridently like some Alanis-come-lately; instead she favors a breathy, delicate style that's nevertheless strong enough to ride comfortably atop the layers of acoustic and electric guitars. (In fact, it's Nova's own guitar that's at the heart of most of the arrangements here.) Throughout Siren, Nova utilizing an intriguing catch in her voice, and ultimately, it's Nova's unique vocal style and winning pop sensibilities that make Siren work as well as it does, doing double duty as substantive singer/songwriter statement and perfect pop-radio product. © TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released April 14, 1998 | Work

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Folk/Americana - Released March 31, 1998 | Work

With the release of his 1997 self-titled debut for Work, along with the label's reissuing of Dog Boy Van, his 1996 indie EP, Dan Bern made the folk music world stand up and take notice (like him or not). Produced by fellow folk iconoclast Ani DiFranco, his third release, Fifty Eggs, extends the musical onslaught he began with those records. DiFranco balances a light touch with forceful sonic ornamentation to draw the most out of the tunes, while Bern, with a reckless abandon, fires phrase after phrase that somehow seem to fall into place when all is said and done. As with his two previous recordings, Bern shines his light on various cultural icons, such as Tiger Woods, Monica Seles, Jesus Christ, and a plethora of "chick singers," most often treating them with empathy, understanding, and wonder, or as pieces in the greater scheme of things and not just easy targets. Stirring numbers such as the touching "Oh Sister" and his paean to tennis star Monica Seles, "Monica," are among his finest, but he seems to misfire with some of the more humorous tracks, which merely come across as better than average novelty songs. A number of clever ideas fail to reach fruition or to call you back like his best work, which would take unexpected turns and reveal new bits of insight with each listening -- songs such as "Cure for AIDS" and "Different Worlds" are interesting enough the first time or two, but grow a bit tiresome with repeated listenings. On the other hand, "No Missing Link" tells the hilarious tale of how an ape's past sexual encounter "of the third kind" created mankind, a theory that he proceeds to back up. Fifty Eggs may not fulfill the promise of Bern's first two efforts, but his somewhat skewed view of the world, along with engaging melodies, a startling poignancy, and his no-holds-barred approach make it worthwhile. © Brett Hartenbach /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released January 27, 1998 | Work

For many years in the alternative revolution of the early '90s, Mary Lou Lord was touted as the next big thing by those in the know, but she never delivered a full-length album, preferring to turn out a series of indie EPs on Kill Rock Stars. It wasn't until 1998 that she released her full-length debut, Got No Shadow. While many of the titles on the album may be familiar to longtime fans -- "Lights Are Changing," "Some Jingle Jangle Morning," "Western Union Desperate," "Subway" -- the clean, polished sound of Got No Shadow might come as surprise. But the production actually does a nice job of opening up her sound, making it accessible like a Shawn Colvin record without losing integrity. Some critics may carp that Lord wrote or co-wrote seven of the 13 tracks of the record, with the rest of the songs devoted to covers of her longtime associate Nick Saloman (the Bevis Frond), and one tune apiece from Elizabeth Cotton ("Shake Sugaree") and Freedy Johnston ("The Lucky One"), but that has the effect of strengthening the album, since there isn't a weak song here. Lord has a sweet, thin voice that is surprisingly versatile, and she delivers Saloman's songs as convincingly as her own. Got No Shadow is a little subdued, but Lord's charming performances, clever lyrics, and catchy melodies prove remarkably resonant. It may not have the unvarnished appeal of the early EPs and tapes, but Got No Shadow was worth waiting for. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released October 16, 1997 | Work

Issued in 1997 by Work Records, Dan Bern's six-song EP Dog Boy Van was originally released independently in 1996, before his signing with the label. The record, like his self-titled debut for Work, kicks off with "Jerusalem" (the same recording), but what follows are five witty, insightful, moving tunes that hold their own next to his best work. Like Randy Newman, one of Bern's strengths is the fact that he'll risk offending someone to make his point; he says what needs to be said and then moves on. At the same time, he's not afraid to be sensitive, vulnerable or even self-deprecating. In the best folk tradition, he also has the knack for telling tall tales like in the hilarious "Talkin' Alien Abduction Blues," as well as the ability to extract timeless emotions from a timely subject, as in the affecting, Woody Guthrie-inspired "Oklahoma" (written about the bombing in Oklahoma City). Dog Boy Van is a welcome release from a vital new artist's past. © Brett Hartenbach /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released September 30, 1997 | Work

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Pop/Rock - Released March 21, 1997 | Work

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Pop/Rock - Released March 4, 1997 | Work

Everyone knows that hype kills, and being touted as the next anything, especially "the next Bob Dylan," is usually, for the most part, the kiss of death. So for those of you turned off by such things, we'll skip those kinds of superlatives, because this record should not be missed. In a genre that on the surface seems to be progressing, but in reality is becoming staler every year, Dan Bern's take on folk music is refreshing to say the least. Bern doesn't treat the music with kid gloves, nor does he try to beautify or jazz it up. He simply attacks the music, much in the way Dylan did, from the solo acoustic "Jerusalem," to the punkish "Go to Sleep" or the spoken melody of "Estelle," which hearkens back to Dylan's own "Brownsville Girl." Lyrically, whether proclaiming himself the Messiah or merely the "king of the world," Bern's acerbic wit and surprising poignancy will pull you back time and time again. So don't listen to those anointing him with phrases like "the next Dylan" or "the best singer/songwriter in years"; just listen to Dan Bern's debut and see for yourself. © Brett Hartenbach /TiVo
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Pop - Released February 4, 1997 | Work

On Terra Incognita, Chris Whitley incorporates the grunge flourishes of Din of Ecstasy into the roots-rock foundations of his debut, Living with the Law. Instead of relying on processed distorted guitars, Whitley uses noise as texture, which helps his songs breathe. While the musical direction of Terra Incognita is considerably more focused than its confused predecessor, Whitley's songwriting remains uneven. Though he has written a better, more diverse record than before, he has yet to produce a set of songs that demonstrate the depth and variety of Living with the Law. Too often, he relies on cliches or simplistic ideas, like the single "Automatic," but when he digs a little deeper, his songs still resonate deeply, which means Terra Incognita is a partial, not a full, comeback. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 14, 1997 | Work

Hailing from the same neo-R&B scene that spawned Soul II Soul and Brand New Heavies, Jamiroquai continues to filter '70s soul through a sieve of '90s acid jazz on its third album. Sounding remarkably like Stevie Wonder, singer Jason Kay's airy vocals float over fat basslines, disco rhythms, and lush strings on "Cosmic Girl." "High Times" takes more of a bottom-heavy, P-Funk-meets-the-EWF-horns approach. Other uptempo jams include "Use the Force," with its Afro-Cuban beat, and the equally funky, scratch-laden title track. Jamiroquai's eclectic bag of influences includes reggae (the loping "Drifting Along") and world music. Two instrumentals center on the otherworldly sounds of a didgeridoo. "Didjerama" is an ambient track that accentuates the instrument's hollow timbre with chirping birds and assorted percussion. "Didjital Vibrations" is quiet storm music. An unlisted drum-n-bass collaboration with M-Beat, "Do You Know Where You're Coming From," wraps up this vibrant package of Brit-soul. © TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released November 3, 1996 | Work