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The Vegas Beat
The Vegas Beat

What is up with the Pacific Northwest that it nourishes such emotionally charged punk? It's largely due to the work of the Chainsaw and Candy-Ass labels, which put out Third Sex, Team Dresch, Sleater-Kinney and the Vegas Beat, a trio of queer-positive punks. Amanda Kelly and Marci Martinez, also of Team Dresch, anchor this farm Team. "To the Fortunate Ones" starts the CD like a whirlwind of emotions jumping out of Pandora's record crate. The vocals aren't caterwauling peals of agony--oxygen is conserved and released in measured tones. The Vegas Beat's empowering aura accelerates on "Willing to Try" and the sumptuous "1000 Miles." "U.F.O." and "She Got Away" offer breathing room, a brief pause to assess the greener grass. The best advice is given at the close of "To the Fortunate Ones"--just stick around. (Todd S. Inoue)

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The Unassisted
Stones Throw

Rasco was a mic-wielding assassin of underground emcee collective Various Blends before releasing The Unassisted, his solo debut. With soundscapes overseen by Peanut Butter Wolf, Rasco enters a chaotic playground filled with ethereal beats and samples that stick. The targets? Fakers, haters, radio programmers. "The Unassisted" sinks all battleships with Saafir-like lyrical precision ("Playing me close, heads are flown at the flag post / At half staff, you've done stepped on the wrong path / You hear the whistle of a missile coming full speed / It's hip-hop to the core, I'm the new breed"). "Hip-Hop Essentials" demonstrates the sonic creativity booming out of this area. Rasco isn't part of KMEL's stylized "hip-hop generation"; he and his Bay Area cohorts sought shelter in subterranean alcoves. When his full-length LP, Time Waits for No One, arrives, assume crash positions. (TSI)

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Eric Johnson

Sandra St. Victor
Mack Diva Saves the World
Warner Bros

In a world teeming with mack-daddies, it was just a matter of time before a femme stepped up. Mack Diva Saves the World is Sandra St. Victor's maiden release after a six-year stint with the jazzadelic Family Stand. Equipped with a pair of pipes that may remind some listeners of prime-time Chaka Khan, St. Victor karate kicks things off with "Mack Diva," her no-shit-taking alter-ego stating her afro-puffed POV. "Cool as ice around her, but fire underneath," Ms. Mack is nature girl to the bad boyz. Things quiet down considerably with "Chocolate." Although the majority of the tracks here are fairly simplistic assessments of male/female relationships, on tracks like "Rise" and "Knocked Up and Locked Down," St. Victor unveils the Helen Reddy in her. Curtis Mayfield (with whom the singer collaborated on his new album) may have been exaggerating when he tabbed St. Victor's a voice from heaven, but it's nice to hear soul music that's not completely consumed with gettin' dirty. (Nicky Baxter)

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From the May 1-7, 1997 issue of Metro

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