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by Carey Murphy and Michael Bowen & r & & lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941.466970863 & amp;type=10 & amp;subid= & quot; & Guitar Wolf & lt;/a & Golden Black Anthology *** & r & I spent a lot of time, early in Guitar Wolf's career, wondering if anyone in the Japanese punk group could actually speak English. Were they merely mimicking the English syllables, or actually singing words? One day, I realized it doesn't even matter.

This is punk, kids. How you say what you're saying is everything. Don't give me that social consciousness crap, the youth movement malarkey -- that was a very specific, very American phenomenon -- punk, at its roots, was about making brash (and usually visual) statements. You think Sid Vicious spent less time getting dressed than David Bowie? Hogwash! Punk has a style manual like everything else, and it's stricter than most. All you get are three chords, rebellion and studded belts.

Guitar Wolf have that steez flat, especially on their version of "Summer Time Blues." In punk, the statement is always less important than letting people know you're making one. Guitar Wolf's statement is simply that they're making one. That's the punkest thing to hit punktown since ... ever. -- Luke Baumgarten

Fiona Apple & lt;a href= & quot; & amp;offerid=78941.466970864 & amp;type=10 & amp;subid= & quot; & Extraordinary Machine & lt;/a & *** & r & I don't care how long it took Fiona Apple to release this album. If more artists would take a cue from her obvious perfectionist tendencies, there wouldn't be such a deluge of crap-rock out there, and there wouldn't be such a dearth of music actually worth buying. Here, Fiona Apple has taken her time and made an album that is worth every cent you'll spend to acquire it.

Still specializing in the piano-driven, waifish dirges of angst-ridden disappointments, Fiona Apple seductively lulls the listener through Extraordinary Machine with her hypnotic voice. The title track is just capriciously Wonka-ish enough to cloud its very serious subject matter. Though it sounds like child's play, this is for adults only. "Get Him Back" keeps the tempo high in order to mask the horrific self-effacing lyrics and the lengths to which the speaker goes to impress her man. We're not talking the good kind of impression.

The album may preach only to the choir, but the choir's growing steadily. -- Carey Murphy
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