Moonlight in Jersey
Duets II
Frank Sinatra
Capitol Records

Sending Sinatra into the studio with the embarrassing hacks and modest stars (Frank Jr., Steve and Eydie, Patti LaBelle, Neil Diamond, Lorrie Morgan, Jimmy Buffett) and oddball surprises (no, Frank's really a big fan of the Pretenders) to recut classic songs Frank recorded when his Ol' Blue Eyes were wide-open doesn't even feign an attempt at art. Those who want to be moved and understand what made Frank a legend own the originals. Only those who don't understand the exploitation of a man by the record company that owns the masters buy this schlock. These aren't sequels; they're slavery.

Down on the Farm
Want In EP
Adam's Farm
Rainmaker Records

Adam's Farm are a curious beast. Theirs is a bar-band brand of arena-rock played in the garage--forceful but not loud, acoustic but not folky, country but not aw-shucksy, classic-sounding but not necessarily old. In other words, they aren't a far stretch from the Old 97s (though Adam's Farm predates that band by a good couple of years) with unadorned vocals and catchy arrangements contained within simple songs--in other words, a pop band that likes to rock but doesn't feel the need to turn it up when they sound better down. Hence, the acoustic rendering of "Was Wet" off their debut Rock Music Machine, and "Look at Me." But intention and execution cross wires on Jonathan Richman's "Girlfriend," which never sounded so plain electric, even.

Karaoke of love
Made in the USA
Pizzicato Five
Matador Records

Sounding like a lounge band performing disco on the set of Dr. No as Twiggy and Dean Martin do the swim underneath reflective lights, Japan's Pizzicato Five do Deee-Lite a hundred times better--it's adoration without irony, embracing disposable American pop culture without ever seeming above it. Creating a hodgepodge of sounds that cross Lalo Schifrin with Sly Stone with Burt Bacharach, performing in Japanese and English, the P5 are the joke where the punchline is delivered with a straight face and a wiggling ass.

--Robert Wilonsky


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