Recordings

Various artists
Red Hot + Bothered: The Indie Rock Guide to Dating
(Reprise)

Red Hot + Bothered sounds like "Parents' Day at Indie Rock Academy"--all the alterna-kids are at their sharpest and most likable. And well they should be. Bothered is the latest AIDS-benefit compilation from Red Hot, an organization that raised more than $5 million with Red Hot + Blue and Red Hot + Country.

Every one of Bothered's 18 performers graciously rises to the occasion, and the album exhibits the best qualities of indie rock--from cheeky to melancholy, from rootsy to avant-garde. Some of the artists appear incognito--Guided by Voices and the Deal sisters (of Breeders fame) play under the name Freedom Cruise, and the Magnetic Field's Stephen Merritt shows up as Future Bible Heroes. Others showcase their side projects: Busy bees Jenny Toomey (Tsunami, Simple Machines) and Lou Barlow (Sebadoh) donated tracks from Liquorice and Folk Implosion, respectively.

True to the indie-rock ethos, Bothered also features several small-timers who deserve a big break, including East River Pipe, a one-man band from Queens; Chicago's watery soul-stirrers the Sea and Cake; and Boise, Idaho's Built to Spill, and Caustic Resin.

With all the major-label subsidiaries and affiliates represented here, Bothered is technically not all indie rock. But rest assured--from Lisa Germano's coy sarcasm to Heavenly's jubilant sneering--it's all indie at heart.--Roni Sarig

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