Rotation

But in spite of all that's refreshing about People Move On, Butler's thin vocals don't pack the punch of his playing. Singular in its sweetness, his singing is roughly akin to Shaun Cassidy's. Still, don't mistake Butler's desire to go it (largely) alone for a case of deluded ego: His take on the Suede breakup has always been that of the hard-working guitarist fleeing the self-centered aesthetic of current leader Brett Anderson. As over-the-top as it is at times, People Move On is a simple personal statement, one that should earn Butler the respect he deserves -- for now, at least. (***)

-- Stephen Gershon

The Presidents of the United States of America
Pure Frosting
Columbia

As Seattle's once-vital scene collapsed in on itself in the mid '90s, the Presidents of the United States of America found themselves at the crumbling epicenter. After only two releases -- both of which went multi-platinum -- the Presidents quickly succumbed to the inevitable.

To commemorate the band's demise, Pure Frosting offers the odds and ends of a brief career: B-sides, concert faves and other rarities. But as the CD's title suggests, the meat of the band's catalog is already out there: Take it or leave it. And, not surprisingly, Frosting exposes the Presidents for the frat-house rockers they always were, riding the crest of Nirvana withdrawal with gimmicky singles like "Peaches" and "Lump," the latter of which is reprised on this collection in all its not-so-tight live splendor.

But the novelty wears off quickly with "Tiki Lounge God," which strives unsuccessfully for the reticent, experimental cool of Cake with its goofy take on a Brady Bunch episode. Equally irritating is "Man (Opposable Thumb)," which boasts the sort of quirky topicality best left to the clever likes of They Might Be Giants. In the end, ill-conceived, last-ditch compilations like these make it that much easier to put the final nail in the coffin. Dead Presidents, indeed. (* 1/2)

-- Stephen Gershon

Prescott Curlywolf
Funanimal World
Freedom

One might call the third release by Austin's Prescott Curlywolf Sorry Ma, Forgot to Produce the Album. This 20-song slab of raw, direct-to-tape garage rock is one of the finest Replacements albums never made. In contrast to the clever studio tricks and wide-screen sonic sheen of the band's one major-label outing, Six Ways to Sunday, Funanimal World is P-Wolf at its most basic -- and maybe its most effective.

It's hard to tell as much at first glance, because Funanimal World blows past like a runaway train. Just when you get whipped in the face by the draft of one song, it seems another has already blown by. From the first thrashy notes of "Baldachino," which sounds like an outtake from the 'Mats' Pleased to Meet Me, the collection is unadulterated chaos, a genuine turn-it-up-and-pop-a-beer soundtrack that bristles with a teenage toughness and abandon (even if the guys are way past those years). It's the sound of a band's retrenchment after getting mired in the music industry morass.

Where bigger acts such as Wilco and Whiskeytown partake generously in later-period 'Mats, P-Wolf wisely references anarchic early classics like Stink. Sure, they're a bit tighter and perhaps wiser than the 'Mats were at the time, but maturity hardly seems to have diminished their spunk. So though there's nothing new and different about Funanimal World, it's still one whiskey-soaked barrel of monkeys. (*** 1/2)

-- Rob Patterson

Press Ratings
***** Historic
**** Great
*** Worthy
** So-so
* Lame

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