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Friday, May 26, 2006



Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band "Your New Best Friend"

By naming itself after the soft-porn mondo director Russ Mayer, and his erstwhile cameraman, Ralph Myerz and the Jack Herren Band seem to set themselves up as purveyors of the kind of low-fi, freaked-out lounge music that graces soundtracks. On their second album, "Your New Best Friend," the Norwegian three-piece offers a lighter, cleaner take on easy listening. The single "Lipstick" comes with sweet female vocals, while the romantic "My Private Night" manages to make orchestral strings sound rich and lush rather than simply cheesy.

Uptempo excursions such as the breakbeat-driven "Waiting For You" edge the album closer to the dancefloor, but despite the grooves, it is essentially melody-driven. Less icily evocative and more unashamedly pop than Royksopp (also from Bergen in Norway), the band touches on everything from '80s electropop to jazzy vibes. Though not groundbreaking, the variety in "Best Friend" and its high quality production will no doubt make it popular with the Japanese lounge crowd.(Jeff Hammond)

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