Out There

Odds 'n' sods

Songs of the Hawaiian Cowboy (Na Mele O Paniolo)
Various artists
Warner Brothers Western

Most people think of Hawaii as a lush, tropical place and cowboys as working in the arid vastness of the Texas plains, but the Hawaiian cattle industry has a rich heritage of native cowpunchers. This collection points up the obvious differences between the two genres--primarily the rhythms of language--but more interesting are their similarities: mournful, nearly yodeling laments ("Ku'u Hoa Hololio"), cuts that swing in an almost-western fashion ("Hawaiian Roughriders"), and story-songs about the life led by the singer ("Pu'u Huluhulu"). As in the American West, the Hawaiian cowboys' way of life has faded, but Na Mele O Paniolo preserves their music.

The Moog Cookbook
Ye Olde Space Band
Restless Records

The increasingly serious attention and analysis accorded electronica virtually guarantees that silly, tongue-in-cheek efforts such as Ye Olde Space Band--subtitled Plays the Classic Rock Hits--will increase in popularity. The Moog synthesizer arguably is the key that started all electronic music, and there is a small thrill behind recognizing the riffs behind numbers like "More Than a Feeling" and "Sweet Home Alabama" Moog-ishly transformed. Unfortunately--and in spite of contributions from the likes of Wayne Kramer and Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh--after a few songs, the chirpy artificial sounds begin to remind the listener--more and more tediously--of the Ur-Moog song, Hot Butter's 1972 hit "Popcorn."

The Texas Chainsaw Orchestra
The Texas Chainsaw Orchestra
Rhino Records

Expanding on an idea pioneered by members of Jackyl is a task fraught with cheese, but the TCO actually had the idea of making music from power tools in the mid-'80s. In fact, the liner notes here suggest that the underground popularity of the group's first tape circulated around the TCO members' home of Aberdeen, Washington, may have influenced the "chainsaw" guitar sound of grunge. Attacking songs like "Sabre Dance" and "American Woman," the TCO gets a sound that is not nearly as cacophonous as you might expect, and while a certain sense of gimmick descends after a while, the album's overall inventiveness and brief (seven-song) length keep it from weighing too heavily on the listener.

--Matt Weitz

 
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