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-- Hobart Rowland

The Geraldine Fibbers
Lost Somewhere Between the Earth and My Home
Virgin

Rawer and bolder than fellow L.A. hard-core folkies X, the Geraldine Fibbers have lashed out a frighteningly successful debut CD. Lost Somewhere Between the Earth and My Home is an oppressively heavy disc, both musically and emotionally, that brings punk rock as close as it's ever come to sounding rootsy. Her voice both ferocious and painfully beautiful, singer Carla Bozulich can't seem to decide if she's Patti Smith or Patsy Cline. Similarly numbing and relentless, Daniel Keenan's bleeding guitar and Jessy Greene's weeping violin grind and moan like they're the Velvet Underground reinterpreting Creedence Clearwater Revival tunes. In other words, the Fibbers growl resembles 10,000 Maniacs -- if, that is, that group had really sounded like 10,000 maniacs.

Throughout Lost Between, Bozulich wails over broken and destructive relationships -- that common lyrical bond between classic country and gothic gloom-rock -- as if she'd met the devil at the crossroads, pierced his tongue, then given him a ride with her to hell. She sings about sinking to a point so low that pitiful hate is the only place to turn. Sometimes she tells stories, such as the grotesque tales in "A Song About Walls" and "Richard." Other times she just spews narcotized hallucinations such as "Lillybelle" and "Marmalade." But always the imagery teeters nervously between good-night prayer and bad nightmare. The accompanying music is a symphony to her gaunt and desperate opera.

-- Roni Sarig

Bloodhound Gang
Use Your Fingers
Cheese Factory/Underdog/Columbia

You'll find white rappers generally divide into two camps: the Beastie Boys disciples and the House of Pain clique. In the former, the hip-hop has nothing to do with the African-American experiences that gave birth to the rap form; rather, it's borrowed to express the middle-class, often suburban, ennui that comes from too much pop culture and too much time on your hands (e.g. Beck). In the latter, groups attempt to co-opt the Afrocentrism and identity worship from black rap and use it as a template for their own particular ethnic trumpeting (Irish, in House of Pain's case).

On their debut CD, Use Your Fingers, Bloodhound Gang make it clear which group they'd expect to be confused with: "No I'm not the guy from the Beastie Boys!" yells Jimmy Pop. (Or is it his partner Daddy Long Legs?) Hailing from somewhere near Ween-land (that is, suburban Philadelphia), BHG is a self-contained frat party dying to offend anyone who'll listen to their often hilarious, in-your-face political incorrectness. They fight for their right to be moronic throughout -- whether worshipping Rip Taylor or invoking the Cavity Creeps from an old toothpaste ad.

It's not all just fat chick and cripple jokes, though: BHG back up their obnoxious idiocy with some fairly wise musical maneuvering. While their age and background lead them to repeatedly mine the '80s for material -- Duran Duran and Cure samples, a "Kids in America" cover -- a sly comment or ingenious a cappella vocals prove they're surprisingly sharp and able lads. Best of all, BHG's knack for placing references completely out of context keeps irony in control and ensures thatthe lunacy reigns on unfettered.

-- Roni Sarig

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