Personal Best

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Trend That Must Stop Award


Weirdest Influence Award

Tuesday Weld -- L'Amour et La Morte (Kindercore) You know we're getting to an odd place in history when musicians start listing obscure British crooners from the '30s as influences. Stephen Coates (aka Tuesday Weld) says he was visited by Al Bowlly in a dream, much in the same way that you'd dream about some kid you haven't seen since fourth grade -- only now he's naked and pushing a fruit cart. While Bowlly didn't appear naked, he did inspire Coates to create his Weld persona -- a top-hatted, debonair fella who croons over jazzy, bossa nova-ish guitar, brushed drums, and modernized beats. If, as Richard Thompson once sang, "Al Bowlly's in heaven," then he must be laughing his little wings off now.

Most Touching Depiction of a Sexual Fetish

The Roofies -- "Frankie the Shoe Fucker"On this local act's debut album, Blame It on the Roofies, lead singer and songwriter Jibz Cameron offers a glimpse at a man who takes his foot fetish a step too far. Over a garagey riff borrowed from the '60s classic "Hanky Panky," Cameron tells how Frankie gets caught with a boot's laces "cinched up around his skin flute" and is sent to jail for "failure to hump like a normal male." What I want to know is: What size boot was it?

Best Reason to Move to Kentucky

Tom Mabe -- Revenge on the Telemarketers Round Two (Virgin)It turns out that in the fine state of Kentucky there's more to do than watch horseracing and sip mint juleps: You can also legally record your own phone conversations. That way, when a telemarketer calls you up, you can pretend you're sitting on the toilet, driving drunk in your car, or beating on your kid, then tape those calls and sell them as a CD. You can end up getting paid to be harassed on the phone, just like advertising jingle writer Tom Mabe. What a state!

Best Approximation of an Acid Trip by a Children's Album

Brak -- Brak Presents The Brak Album Starring Brak (Rhino)First things first: This collection of songs and skits from the Cartoon Network show is thoroughly, relentlessly stupid. That's what makes it so charming. It's also totally bizarre. For example, Count Brakula comes not to suck blood but to deliver a pizza ("No garlic crust!"), a magic toenail saves Brak from the evil dentist Dr. Shriek, and a news anchor apologizes for breaking into a song and for not keeping his pants on. Cameos by movie heartthrob Freddie Prinze Jr. and Irish folk group the Chieftains add to the oddness, as do hip hop beats, zippy backup vocals by the Brakettes, and lyrics that mention actor Charles Nelson Reilly, the band Korn, and Bigfoot all in the same song.

The President Went to Vietnam and All I Got Was This Lousy Compilation Award

V/A -- Ho! Roady Music of Vietnam (Trikont)Having received a grant to record Vietnamese musicians, this German label decided to document the multitudes of street performers, legless prostitutes, hotel cover bands, drugged-up funeral processions, one-stringed dan bau players, and busking septuagenarians with backpack amps who line the hectic, dirty streets of downtown Saigon. It's probably not what the Vietnamese government had in mind; according to the liner notes, the local yuppies are more into Sting.

Best Rhyme for 'Penises"

Two Dollar Guitar -- "Everybody's in a Band"New Jersey songwriter Tim Foljahn captures the hipster milieu perfectly with this country/rock ballad from his group's fourth album, Weak Beats and Lame-ass Rhymes. Over a lolling steel guitar riff, Foljahn levels a shotgun of misanthropy at the abundance of bands, authors, and screenwriters who surround him, singing in his gutter-trawling voice, "Hey all you renaissance geniuses/ You know we want to see it all/ Your vaginas and your penises/ Your feces is masterpieces." Then he turns his distaste on himself, admitting that he's as guilty as the next scenester.

Not to Be Outdone Award

The Pilgrims -- "Loneliest of Animals"This Sacramento joke-pop trio suggests that the penis is the loneliest of animals, sad when it's not where it's supposed to be: "in a vagina." A certain segment of the local population may take issue with these lyrics on grounds of sexual identity, while others may find them just plain moronic. Idiocy is, of course, the whole point here. That and the fact that you'll end up getting some weird looks when the song's catchy melody leaves you singing it in public.

Those Sure Are Nice Shoes I'm Wearing Award

Nobody -- Soulmates (Ubiquity) If every person is allotted 15 minutes of fame, then every musical genre gets 30 -- half at the outset and half at the revival. This year, bands like Sacramento's Electro Group and Yorba Linda's Lassie Foundation initiated the shoegazer revival, playing huge squalls of feedback while staring at the floor like early '90s bands My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver, and Chapterhouse. While these groups' records were decent enough -- like a good Ramones-inspired punk album -- it took a hip hop DJ named Nobody to invest the genre with new purpose. Begun as an instrumental beat tape to be sold from his backpack for extra cash, Soulmates finds the L.A. artist taking trippy downtempo jazz and spacey synthesizer psychedelia to a region halfway between Sun Ra's Saturn home and the shoegazers' more ethereal planes. As for gazing at his footgear, I imagine Nobody's got better places to be peeking.

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