As for Honor Amongst Thevz, it's all slink and slide, with Coolio's backup posse reveling in a retro-rhythmic charm all its own. "Tennis Shoe Pimpin' " and "Let My Mind Be Free" has 40 Thevz dishing out an updated version of Sugar Hill Gang-era, roller-disco rap and funk. There are a few rough patches, especially when the bloated, if somewhat ironic, message track "Thank God the Children" threatens to spoil the party mood. But overall, Honor proves that talent can be contagious between leader and underlings. (***)

-- Craig D. Lindsey

Galactic Cowboys
The Horse That Bud Bought
Metal Blade

The Galactic Cowboys may indeed occupy the G spot in rock's seemingly unending metal-with-harmonies sphere, but they don't want to violate you. They're Christians, after all, and their G spot is reserved for the man upstairs. The ongoing battle between the spirit and the flesh has inspired some great moments in pop music (Al Green and Marvin Gaye, for example, were geniuses torn between the church and worldly desires), but this isn't one of them.

How does someone reconcile the world of sex, drugs and sleazy business practices with the forgiveness and piety of God? One would never know by listening to The Horse That Bud Bought. Lacking are portraits of how difficult it is to be a rocker and a Christian -- the struggle that it must be to navigate those two worlds. Instead, the CD's thematic centerpiece is a pair of turgid numbers, "The Buzz Coughing" and "Tomorrow," anti-hipster protest outings that come across as little more than sour grapes.

The Cowboys recorded Bud at home, but it certainly doesn't sound like it. Its production resembles the thinly shielded bombast of well-known releases from five years ago -- Temple of the Dog, Candlebox's first one, Pearl Jam's Ten. There are plenty of big guitars, meaty and layered thick. But rather than cutting right through you, they sound crusty and overdone -- sort of like Tammy Faye's eye makeup. Mostly, Bud is inoffensive light grunge for anti-trendsetters, minus the soul to which rock and roll aspires -- and deserves. (**)

-- David Simutis

CDs rated on a one to five star scale.

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