The five bestselling
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1. SHADOWS ARE SECURITY-As I Lay Dying Weeks on chart: 3 Style: Jackhammer metal. Worldview: "Your love has set me free / as You've awakened every star / that has been sleeping / in the constellation of my soul. / How could I go back / to live amongst the dead?" Overall quality: The band's Faulknerian name aside, the literary work this music really brings to mind is Beowulf-specifically Grendel, whose guttural roar is the apparent template for Tim Lambesis' sub-verbally emetic "singing." 2. ANOTHER DAY ON EARTH-Brian Eno Weeks on chart: 1 Style: Spacily electronic dreamscapes for late-night male and female voice. Worldview: Slow and eerie wins the race. Overall quality: Avoids the over-subtlety of so much "ambient" music by imaginatively mixing and matching the genre's necessarily minimalistic elements, by incorporating echoes of Mr. Eno's famous '70s collaborations with David Bowie and Roxy Music, and by not being too uptight for sheer beauty. 3. BLAME THE VAIN-Dwight Yoakam Weeks on chart: 1 Style: Roadhouse boogie, honky-tonk weepers. Objectionable material: Casual cursing ("Intentional Heartache"), stylishly suggestive inner-booklet photos. Worldview: Seven in which she's left plus one in which love's gone flat plus another in which he wants her to leave plus two in which he wants to try again equals women: You can't live with 'em or without 'em. Overall quality: Not his best, not his worst, no sign of being his last. 4. THE WOODS-Sleater-Kinney Weeks on chart: 5 Style: Garage punk as volatile vehicle for female self-expression. Objectionable material Obscenity ("Entertain"); lesbian double-entendres ("Rollercoaster," "Let's Call It Love"). Worldview: "Reality is the new fiction, they say. / Truth is truer these days. Truth is man-made. / If you're here 'cause you want to be entertained, / please go away." Overall quality: Would be (merely) obnoxious if not for the bounce in the rhythms and the fun in the chords. 5. GIMME FICTION-Spoon Weeks on chart: 9 Style: Melodic, mid-tempo college rock with a few jagged edges. Worldview: The dropping of Ralph Reed's name notwithstanding ("Merchants of Soul"), the album's intent would appear to reside less in its inconsequential lyrics than in its inner and outer cover photos, in which Little Red Riding Hood's hood resembles a burka and the wolf blood on her finger the purple ink of Iraqi voters. Overall quality: Pleasant, fleeting. In the spotlight Friday Morning Quarterback (fmqb.com) categorizes the five albums above as "submodern/independent," yet none of them deserve the description as much as Columbia/Legacy's three-disc You Ain't Talkin' to Me: Charlie Poole and the Roots of Country Music. Recorded between 1902 and 1940 and packaged in a cardboard cigar box, these 72 songs chronicle the role of that most submodern and independent of instruments-the banjo-in what would eventually be called "country" music. The tale's tragic hero (he drank himself to death at 39) is the singing North Carolina banjoist Charlie Poole, whose entire recorded output is documented herein, supplemented by recordings of musicians who influenced him or vice versa. Rural realists all, they were politically incorrect before political incorrectness was cool. Thus while their banjo-playing has proved influential, it's their wry humor ("I'm the Man That Rode the Mule 'Round the World," "The Man That Wrote Home Sweet Home Never Was a Married Man") that makes them enduring.
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