Alibi V.13 No.3 • Jan 15-21, 2004 

Sonic Reducer

Garageland Last Exit to Garageland (Foodchain)

Originally released in 1997, Garageland's debut was criminally overlooked by most indie rock aficionados in the United States. In their county of origin—New Zealand—however, the band were rightfully hailed as the southern hemisphere's answer to Pavement. But it's the band's pronounced similarity to the Pixies and Sonic Youth that's most likely to tickle your eardrums. The band's third album, Scorpio Righting was quietly released almost two years ago, but this reissue of Last Exit ..., with eight bonus tracks, moderately outshines the band's more recent output. It's an indie rock masterpiece of Surfer Rosa proportions.

Release date: out now

Paul Kelly Ways and Means (spinART)

Aussie songwriter Paul Kelly is back with his ninth collection of new songs in 19 years, and it's full of the Gram Parsons-esque purity and relevance that has become Kelly's signature. While he still leans on Parsons and Bob Dylan for inspiration, Kelly is a masterful storyteller in his own right, and Ways and Means carries with it a certain laid-back country feel that's perfect for the new, inflective material. Most of disc one's 11 tracks are plaintive love songs woven only the way Kelly can. Disc two is a curiosity, containing 10 more tracks recorded during the same sessions.

Release date: Feb. 17

Charles Brown Life in the Blues (Rounder)

This tribute to late, great blues and R&B pianist/vocalist Charles Brown is presented in two parts: separate CD and DVD programs. The CD program centers around a 1990 live performance New York's late, great Lone Star Roadhouse, presenting a 68-year-old Brown in remarkably top form. The DVD contains two short films, a pair of video interviews and a complete discography. It's a phenomenal package, but most fans of classic blues and R&B are likely to be so floored by the CDs 10 tracks that it'll be weeks before they even crack the DVD. Not familiar with Brown? Shame on you.

Release date: out now