R.L. Burnside
Burnside on Burnside
Fat Possum Records

Fame is a double-edged blade for R.L. Burnside. His alliance with the young blues fanatics of Fat Possum Records assures this seventysomething demon an audience and a modest fortune. Surely no more than he deserves--Burnside plays Mississippi hill music with a ferocity dreamed of by many bluesmen but achieved by almost none. The downside, evident on a number of sadly blunted releases, comes when techno geeks with more brains than sense go mucking around in the man's music, cluttering his spare brutality with hokey remix effects and big-ass beats. All to appeal to the kids, no doubt.

This live album indicts all such flimmery. Captured before a loving crowd at our own Crystal Ballroom, this is straight-no-chaser Burnside. Flanked by grandson Cedric on skins and adopted son Kenny Brown on lead guitar, this Burnside is a hard-rocking unchurched beast--100-percent-pure animosity, dread, drunkenness and lust. R.L. sings about whiskey, jail, women, sex and death over a molten spew of electric guitar and brass-knuckled drums. He leaves you wondering why there need be songs about anything else. And his band makes you wonder why anyone would play anything else. This is the real shit, all right, and it went down in our hometown. We should be proud, and you should buy it now. (ZD) snap judgments

Interscope Records

Those who recall that Butch Vig was once the most famous member of this "alt supergroup" (quick--to the vomitorium!) will be glad Vig's touch on the studio knobs takes precedence here over the preening of singer Shirley Manson. Yes, Manson harbors a great voice inside her pasty, over-seen frame, and her singing butters Beautiful. Really, though, the sound is the star, taking sophisticated and mostly successful bows to surf rock, industro-dance and Beyoncé-esque R&B smarm, among other things. (ZD)

The Goddamn Gentlemen
Sex-Caliber Horsepower
UpperCut Records
Violence, alcohol, women and internal combustion. They are the garage rocker's friends--but they can be dangerous friends! Too many of our pomade-happy punk pals find themselves trapped in a dull grind of cars, bars and guitars, so determined to live the image they forget to step beyond boring three-chord conventions. But not Portland's G'damn Gents, no. Sex-Caliber Horsepower shows the quintet bucking at the reins through a blazing set lit up with Farfisa, discordant blasts of psychedelic sax and loads of that swaggering sass. By the numbers, it's not; but a winner, it is. (ZD)

The Mistreaters
Grab Them Cakes
Big Neck Records

From the opening sample--"I'm gonna rip your asshole, honky"--Grab Them Cakes inflicts refreshingly cruel and unusual punk-rock punishment on the listening ear. Screeching destructo-fuzz chaos, industrial-tinged rhythms, and a demanding vocal rasp make these dumbbells from Milwaukee a post-garage punk force to be reckoned with. Coming to town soon! (SDS)

Porterhouse Quintet
Thumbs Up Little Buddy
Lauan Records
The inaugural album by Portland's funkiest jazz cinquain leaves you craving a tall glass of water. Although the syncopated fivesome is most firmly rooted in jazz funk, sinews of pop jazz, rock and jazz fusion put some leverage behind its spanking orchestration. Even the rhythmically challenged and bottom-heavy will want to get off their rockers and lace up them dancing shoes. (CM)

Various Artists
Give the People What They Want: The Songs of the Kinks
Sub Pop Records
Most tribute albums make me want to punch my best friend; there's just something about hearing great songs butchered that turns me into a Measure 11 candidate. But this collection of Kinks' classics, featuring the indie-rocking likes of C Average, Mark Lanegan, the Makers and Nikol Kollars, hardly sucks at all. Probably because Ray Davies wrote pop tunes so simple and straight-ahead they'd be hard to wreck (although the Fastbacks give it a go). As interesting as some of the interpretations on this disc are, I'm still sticking to the originals, in all their crushed-red-velvet glory. (PD)

Various Artists
Time Will Tell: Henry & Louis Meet Blue & Red In Kingston 20 JA
BSI Records
Local imprint BSI adds another chapter to its eccentric body of work with an album uniting soundsmiths from Bristol, U.K., and Kingston, Jamaica. A veritable army of Jamaican microphone cats, old-school to new, drop heavy dollops of Rasta spirit and yardie menace into ghostly tracks prepped by English production teams Henry & Louis and Blue & Red. The result: a potent compound of Jamaica's raw testimony and Bristol's signature morphine-slow dance sound. (ZD)