Alibi V.16 No.36 • Sept 6-12, 2007 

Sonic Reducer

Puerto Plata Mujer de Cabaret (IASO Records)

There are times in life when music stands as joy’s final vestige in a world marred by violence and hate. For years, the 84-year-old Puerto Plata has kept alive the traditions of Dominican acoustic music despite the long, suppressive dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo, who favored more bourgeois forms of music. Mujer is an album serving as a museum for the pure, simple happiness that persisted in the country in spite of this oppression. Plata is a true master of his craft, and this rare recording displays perfection in a sound that’s not to be missed. Plata will be performing at the ¡Globalquerque! Festival in Albuquerque on Sept. 21 and 22, along with shows in Las Cruces on Sept. 20 and Santa Fe on Sept. 22. [TG]

Black Francis Bluefinger (Cooking Vinyl)

Frank Black has produced, on average, an album a year since disbanding the Pixies in 1992. But while Bluefinger is his 16th solo effort, it's the first he's filed under Black Francis—his Pixies persona. Black's most recent solo work has been increasingly smitten with Nashville, but the name he slapped on this record indicates a return to rock. Often Francis sounds like an artist who's been in the industry for a while—amped, over-polished rock melodies and shrill backup singers—rather than an artist with a new vision. There are glimmers of freshness, though, as in "Threshold Apprehension," a simple electric guitar duet followed by the manic Francis' post-punk cry with equally manic lyrics. [LM+AD]

Crowded House Time On Earth (Ato Records)

Attempts at rekindling flames that have gone out long ago do not usually fare well. This is the unfortunate case with most aged pop acts. Although Crowded House (of "Don't Dream It's Over" notoriety) sounds sharp on its first release in more than 10 years, Time On Earth, bleakly sold as "adult alternative," is more of an exercise than an exciting accomplishment. [JCC]

[TG] Thomas Gilchrist, [LM+AD] Laura Marrich and Amy Dalness, [JCC] Jessica Cassyle Carr