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Chris Whitley "Rocket House"; "Sharin' In The Groove: Celebrating the Music of Phish," Various; The Silos, "Laser Beam Next Door,"; Uberzone "Faith in the Future"; Perry Farrell "Song Yet to Be Sung"

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Chris Whitley "Rocket House" (ATO Records)

Chris Whitley's seventh record and first on Dave Matthews label has been billed as his second chance at the big time. But Whitley, who's a darker poet in the alternative blues genre, keeps his soulful blues in the black. He gets help, too. Programmer DJ Logic's presence shrills and squeaks throughout the album. Matthews and Bruce Hornsby contribute to "Radar," a dark love song that's about sneaking a sally through the alley. Tabla master Badal Roy plays on "Little Torch." Trixie Whitley, the 14-year old daughter of Whitley, adds hauntingly mature background vocals to "Chain (Apologies to Tadpole)" and "Serve You." She has her dad's soulful vocals. His vocals are the centerpiece of the album and soar highest on the dark tale of murder on "From a Photograph," the album's catchy opener, "To Joy (Revolution of the Innocents)," and "Vertical Desert." In some places Whitley's instrumental side lacks melody and some direction, but Whitley's "Rocket House" is a modern rock-blues album that soothes the deepest darkest parts of your soul. — Jacob Parcell

"Sharin' In The Groove: Celebrating the Music of Phish," Various (Mockingbird Foundation)

This compilation was put together by the Mockingbird Foundation, a nonprofit group made up of Phish fans to raised money for various music-related charities. Much like any tribute album, "Sharin'" has some nice surprises and some duds. Unlike other tribute albums, this one was made with a slightly different concept using, for the most part, artists that either influenced Phish or collaborated with them. While there are some high quality names on this tribute — Jimmy Buffet doing a terrific cover of the jazz-funky "Gumbo" and Dave Matthews soloing during a poignant rendition of "Waste" — there are also a few no-names who don't quite come through: The Boredoms? Trust the name and skip the band's cover of "Free." Among the highlights is an excellent cover of the reggae anthem "Makisupa Policeman" by the Wailers, which features drummer Drummie Z of Richmond's own Razor Posse. Also of note are a bluesy rockin' "Suzy Greenberg" by Son Seals, a bluegrass jam of "Runaway Jim" by the Gordon Stone Trio and movin' jazz treatments of "Tweezer" and "Magilla" by Michael Ray and the Cosmic Krewe. Perhaps the most interesting contribution is a composition of "My Friend, My Friend / Guyute," composed by Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio and performed by the Vermont Youth Orchestra. All in all, the good outweighs the bad. Plus, you get two CDs for $12 and the profits go to charity. Check it out. — Chris Hudgins

The Silos, "Laser Beam Next Door," (Checkered Past Records)

Fans of Cracker might want to take note of this homegrown New York City trio who has gotten the whole folky rock 'n' roll spin on its music down pat in both style and delivery. Each track is a humble testament to the three-minute pop song, while still incorporating the feel of more contemporary jam bands and the spunkiness of classic acts such as the Velvet Underground. The album is entertaining on the whole, but only a handful of the songs really stand out. "Where Ya Been" seems to be the most hard-charging, straightforward rock song on the record and the strongest cut on the album. Lead vocalist and guitarist Walter Salas-Humara also livens up such tracks as "Sangre Y Lagrimas" and "Disfrute" by adding purely Spanish lyrics to this already eclectic mix. A bit of tongue-in-cheek humor goes a long way on the disco-teetering "Wooky Do" and "I Believe" (All the Hippies smell like gasoline/And all the police are on Methedrine). I'm not quite sure what the author meant by that lyric, but it's worth a laugh none the less. — Angelo DeFranzo

Uberzone "Faith in the Future" (Astralwerks)

Uberzone is a new project by Q, a California DJ who takes his name from the character who supplies James Bond with his fancy toys. Uberzone's new CD, "Faith in the Future," combines elements of hip-hop, rap, reggae and electronica with a distinctly '80s (the electronica flavor-of-the-month) vibe.

"Faith" is tasty dance music now, but electronica has the tendency to date and sour faster than open milk. Only a few of these electronica groups have any staying power; most lack true personality and testify to the popularity of Napster and disposable music.

Uberzone offers a little that is fresh, such as its guest vocalists and its "Future Shock"-era Herbie Hancock cuts. But too often it sounds no different from what's on the latest high-speed Playstation 2 game. This is tolerable club music today, but who will listen tomorrow? — Wayne Melton

Perry Farrell "Song Yet to Be Sung" (EMD/Virgin)

Reinventing your sound is a dubious proposition for some musicians. But Perry Farrell has never drawn boundaries on where the music seems to take him. His latest effort, "Song Yet to Be Sung," is quite a diversion from his earlier projects, particularly Jane's Addiction — an act that made him one of the most influential musicians of the '90s.

For the last year, Farrell has been performing more as a club DJ than the quirky and highly unpredictable frontman that most people are accustomed to. His love for electronica has transcended a mere hobby to beome the basis for this collaboration. Nevertheless, the high-pitched shrieks and undeniable vocals that put Farrell on the map are still in the mix.

Notable tracks include the haunting, yet beautiful "Our Song" and the simple "To Me," which at times hints at Beach Boys-style harmonies with techno-hooks.

Farrell continues to tour this summer as a DJ act while ex-bandmate Dave Navarro is on the road in support of his own solo debut. Surprisingly, both artists released their albums around the same time, which adds to even more speculation about a possible Jane's Addiction reunion tour. — Joel Kusterer

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