Wave of the Hand: The Best of Carla Olson (Watermelon)
Carla Olson isn't the best songwriter, yet when she does songs by Mick Taylor, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, and Eric Johnson, and has guests Johnson, Ry Cooder, Percy Sledge, and Kathy Valentine (her old mate in the Textones) on several cuts, it's hard to fault her for much. The covers show off her skills as a prime rock & roll interpreter (watch out, Melissa Etheridge) and frame her compositions in a way that makes them a lot easier on the ear.
-- Chris Gray
As ambient music goes, this is mighty, well, ambient: a 12-inch vinyl EP of floaty keyboards, low roars, and drippy cavern sounds. The band's pretensions to harnessing the advantages of wax over CDs are a bit laughable, though. The extended piece on side two, they say, is in fact two cuts. When played at 45rpm, it's called "Grota de Lepão;" at 33 it's "Continuum Distortion Propulsion." And as far as the "interactive" element of a lock groove at the end of each side, I don't know about you, but I haven't had a turntable with a working automatic pickup for as long as I can remember. -- Ken Lieck
Dreamers, Visionaries... (Shanacie)
What you've got here is the inherent CD-ROM question -- "Great, but how many times will I play it?" That said, this collection of David Isay's radio segments for NPR's All Things Considered won a Peabody Award, and with good reason. The 11 radio pieces on eccentrics and real-life marvels (from the guy who's too busy keeping a diary to actually do anything worth writing about to the lifers in Angola prison), are as vivid as any Jack Kerouac slice of Americana. The feature on Dr. Hepcat, aka Austin's Lavada Durst -- one of the first black deejays in the Southwest -- rings especially real. -- Raoul Hernandez "Bonus Tracks" reviews all local and Texas-based releases commercially available. Send to: "Bonus Tracks," TheAustin Chronicle, PO Box 49066, Austin, TX 78765.