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KEVIN SALEM (Buy CDs by this artist)
Soma City (Roadrunner) 1994
Glimmer (Roadrunner) 1996
Ecstatic (Future Farmer) 2001

Since his days in Dumptruck, Pennsylvania-born guitarist/singer Kevin Salem has had his hands full producing (Madder Rose, Scarce, Grover), playing with friends (Roscoe's Gang, Freedy Johnston, Yo La Tengo, Chris Harford, Miracle Legion) and doing session work (Pooh Sticks) — not to mention a debilitating bout with lyme disease. The New York resident also writes songs and fronts his own band, a quintet that has included former Dumptruck/Chris Harford associate Dave Dunton on keyboards and Keith Levreault (ex-Blood Oranges and Roscoe's Gang) on drums. Soma City is less a reality-alleviating elixir than a cathartic venture with forceful guitar lines ("Lighthouse Keeper") wedged alongside rough-hewn pop ("Remain," "Will"). Produced by Niko Bolas, Soma City distinguishes its meatier rock with a good dosage of dramatic flourish. Butch Vig co-wrote "Forever Gone," a painful breakup song, with Salem; Syd Straw drapes her graceful, ethereal vocals into the background on four tracks. Salem's ragged and sometimes desperate voice serves these slices of self-conscious introspection and world-weary resignation very well.

[Vickie Gilmer]
   See also Eric Ambel, Chris Harford and the First Rays of the New Rising Sun, Freedy Johnston, Pooh Sticks