Volume 95, Issue 71

Thursday, February 7, 2002

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Hedgehogs and beavers, oh my

Spicy dating drama hot off the Island

These musical Streets and Roads are worth travelling

These musical Streets and Roads are worth travelling

Neil Halstead

Sleeping on Roads


Three 1/2 stars (out of five)

British singer/songwriter Neil Halstead makes his solo debut with an album suitable for the sparsely-populated coffee shop crowd on a Thursday evening.

Halstead is best known as the lead singer of Mojave 3, a low-key pop band known for their sad, country-tinged albums. The sound of Sleeping on Roads is a slight departure from Mojave 3, combining acoustic pop and folk music under a layer of keyboards and strings.

For all of his folk influences, Halstead doesn't write songs you can instantly hum along to, or even remember, five minutes after the album is over.

The two exceptions to this rule are "See You On Rooftops" – the only song where Halstead really cuts loose with the guitar – and "High Hopes," reminiscent of one of Bruce Springsteen's classic acoustic numbers.

The other seven songs on the record are good when heard individually, but glaze together if you listen to the album in one sitting.

Regardless, Roads is an understated album that establishes Halstead as a credible solo artist.

–Mark Polishuk


Various Artists

Another Year on the Streets, Volume 2

Vagrant Records

Three 1/2 stars (out of five)

Loved by kids who've outgrown their Blink-182 albums, Santa Monica-based Vagrant Records has established itself as Indie-label-of-the-moment in just a few years.

Vagrant's second Another Year on the Streets package does what its predecessor did best – pack as many two or three minute songs into 74 minutes as possible to serve as both anthology and promotional tool for the label.

The 22 songs here include some gems from the Vagrant catalog of the past year, as well as tracks from upcoming releases.

Oldies-but-goodies include The Kids' piano-and-strings-backed "New Found Mass (2000)" from Eudora, as well as Dashboard Confessional's "Screaming Infidelities."

The 2002 fare is just as promising – especially the two tracks from Face to Face and The Anniversary's "Sweet Marie," which boasts some tragedy-tinged harmonies to make the track sweet.

But the cut that stands out most is a killer cover of Berlin's hit "Metro" by the Alkaline Trio.

By replacing synths with grinding guitars and a percussive bass line, the original version's quirkiness turns to menace – and it's all topped off with an oh-so-fine punk rock "Whow!"

–Brian Wong

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