ARLING & CAMERON
MUSIC FOR IMAGINARY FILMS
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Arling & Cameron have discovered the Ghost of Disco Past on this cheeky ode to film scores, which they say is not a true follow-up to their delicious, pie-in-the-face-of-dance-music debut, All-In. That album rolled with samples of children singing and computers that proclaimed their love for rock & roll in a style too uplifting to be taken seriously by the electronic mainstream. Music for Imaginary Films comes around to be a part of that mainstream, devilishly exposing the genre's true, lighthearted nature. It bops like a wide-smiling kid on a pogo stick through a plethora of hyper-dynamic styles, mostly rooted in '70s spy/action soundtrack glitz. From the inane Brady Bunch pop of "WEEKEND" to the Gap-commercial-waiting-to-happen guitar jazz of "Milano Cool" and the hilarious "Hashi" (a super drug-sniffing dog), Arling & Cameron have found the fine line between fun and stupidity. People ate up Fatboy Slim's "Rockafeller Skank," so they should have no trouble swallowing "Let's Get Together," with its repeated mantra "The sky is the limit, baby/Let's get higher!" More than anything, Music for Imaginary Films proves that Arling & Cameron do camp better—and more honestly—than most DJs. (Michael Coyle)
GUY CLARK COLD DOG SOUPSUGAR HILL
A quarter-century on, and Guy Clark's hits are still being missed. In the mid-'70s, his collections of hard-living, soft-hearted songs, Old No. 1 and Texas Cookin', were washed out by a tide of so-called "outlaw" country records, and the spotlight stayed mostly on the more carefully scuffed Willie and Waylon. Despite a voice as sweetly crunchy as a gravel road, Clark's biggest successes over the years have come when his songs have been sung by the well-paved pipes of people like Ricky Skaggs or Vince Gill. Now comes Clark's latest, Cold Dog Soup, and it's all but invisible in an era when mainstream country is again reveling in the '70s, inexplicably enamored with a retarded celebration of arena-rock values la Garth and Shania. But if Clark is destined to remain overshadowed—and it kind of looks that way—that's okay. Some of us like our music shaded. Cold Dog Soup is full of the reasons real people make music; with plain talk, simple harmonies, and an expert concoction of guitars, mandolins and violins, Clark emphasizes that music is more than meets the ear. He digs the original purpose out of a well-worn phrase ("Men Will Be Boys") and explores such enduring mysteries as the travels of an old coin ("Indian-Head Penny"). He reaffirms, with optimism and fatalism, the glory and doom of perseverance ("Die Tryin'") and the beautiful promise and elusiveness of eternal love ("Forever, for Always, for Certain"). Even in the title song, which takes a curmudgeonly jab at the current popularity of obtuse poetry, there's a nod of admiration for the sliver of idealism that Clark knows lurks inside pretentious coffeehouse bards. Cold Dog Soup marks the welcome return of an old friend who can see through your attitude and your defensiveness and who can make you chuckle at the same time he brings a lump to your throat. (Dave Wielenga)