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Archive for Thursday, October 15, 1998

DADA DADA

October 15, 1998

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Dadaism is alive and well -- and self-titled this time. The Los Angeles band Dada introduced itself in 1992 with an edgy, sarcastic trip through ``Disneyland,'' the first cut off ``Puzzle.'' The edges are fuzzed a bit in its fourth album, but much of the alternative bite continues. ``Information Undertow'' laughs at the 24-hour ability to know everything (``I lit up my Apple, surfed through the shrapnel, accessed my online babe''). ``Playboy in Outerspace'' rocks through the downside of nightlife. The West Coast dream gone bad is relived in the album's first single, ``California Gold.'' The group sputters a bit when it tries to slow things down, as in ``This Thing Together.'' Thankfully, it more than makes up the difference with rattling gems like ``Beautiful Turnback Time Machine.'' Its songs have a bouncy creativity that supplants any surreal effects you'd expect from a band with a name like Dada.

Psycho Circus

KISS

Just when rock finds itself in danger of drowning in self-importance, KISS comes back to kick the complainers where it hurts. No gloom-'n'-doom, alternative whiners, these guys. On its hard-rocking 31st album ``Psycho Circus'' -- the first all-new KISS studio CD since 1979's ``Dynasty'' to feature performances from the group's four original members -- the painted rockers pay reverence to tried-and-true KISS themes. The anthemic ``I Pledge Allegiance to the State of Rock & Roll'' sums up what KISS is after here. ``Psycho Circus'' barrels out of the ring with Paul Stanley's booming call-to-arms title track, and the sound isn't far removed from what KISS was doing in the '80s with its revolving lineup: big hooks, twin guitar leads, ``volume.'' The difference this time is these guys, all in their late 40s, have something on their minds other than sex, and that's a welcome change. If Stanley chooses to stick to typical, albeit catchy, KISS formula and Peter Criss tries and fails to rehash ``Beth'' balladry on ``I Finally Found My Way,'' fire-breathing bassist Gene Simmons, surprisingly, does most of the pushing lyrically and musically, as he offers a bit of Beatles-like pop (``We Are One''), psychological analysis (``Within'') and orchestrated pomp (``Journey of 1,000 Years''). The only disappointment is the underuse of lead guitarist Ace Frehley, whose spacey and riff-heavy ``Into the Void'' stands as the best track here. If you loved KISS in the '70s, you'll love ``Psycho Circus'' and its nifty 3-D cover. And if you hated them then, nothing here will change your mind.

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