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SEELY 10/24, Lounge Ax In the cosmology of the fair folk, the Seelie Court are the noble romantic fairies, and the Unseelie Court are the things that go bump in the night. On its second Too Pure release, Seconds, this smart, ethereal pop quartet out of Atlanta lives up to its appellation. But be warned that even good fairies have an unnerving habit of spiriting mortals away for a wild night that turns out to have really lasted 20 years--and after that much of this sweetness and light, you might come back hankering for a little more bump.

TRANS AM 10/25, EMPTY Bottle Why settle for smirky, self-conscious imitations of the bachelor-pad music of an earlier space age when you can have the eerie, pulsating atmospherics of this charmingly cheesy little trio? On its second LP, Surrender to the Night (Thrill Jockey), the drums are mostly real, analog doesn't hold itself aloof from digital, and the dark soundscapes progress in logical, if sometimes surprising, directions. Neither prog nor electronica, Trans Am spends more time onstage than in the studio; its forthcoming third album ought to bring the benefits of thorough road testing into your thoroughly 90s Lava lamp love nest. The resurrected Don Caballero opens.

GARRISON STARR 10/26, Metro Though the 11 promising songs on Memphis songwriter Starr's debut, Eighteen Over Me (Geffen), seem to flatten out a bit under the high-gloss production, she sings with a liquid conviction and a personable passion that should revive them onstage. Starr's worked as a flunky in the music business and seems to have learned from others' mistakes; she may be radio friendly, but she's no suck-up.

CHUMBAWAMBA 10/27, METRO Chumbawamba have been dishing out lefty politics with their beats for over a dozen years now, falling in and out of favor with the music press in their native Britain and remaining favorites of a loyal but not especially mediagenic core of fans. Over the years they've moved further and further into the realm of good-time music--their new Tubthumper (Republic) fuses disco, Eurodisco, ska, and even a little stadium rock. In fact, their spirits seem to grow higher with every frustration they encounter--but that's the natural resilience of anarchy for you. It's not the revolution, but I bet Emma Goldman would have danced to it.

KIM FOX 10/30, VIC Indiana resident Fox's debut, Moon Hut, ably supported by sugar daddies Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen, finds her posing as a whip-smart Morissette-ette and sounding like a second-rate sex kitten. She's breathy and squeaky as a cracked piccolo, and the unbelievably cloying string-and-piano arrangements must be to hedge her bets with the adult-contemporary crowd. I cannot begin to describe how awful this record is; if the fact that she's sampled Ituri forest Pygmies for her baby-voiced cover of Springsteen's "Atlantic City" doesn't convince you, I am powerless. (Note to Kim: you shouldn't have to use your arms to push your breasts up in future album photos. Spielberg's people can make you a special foam-rubber bra for that.)

--Monica Kendrick

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Chumbawamba photo by Casey Orr.

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