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POPEALOPES (Buy CDs by this artist)
An Adder's Tale (Skyclad) 1988
Kerosene (Skyclad) 1990

With two albums produced by Russ Tolman, this Davis, California quartet isn't defying any laws of logic by bearing a certain stylistic resemblance to True West (not to mention the pride of Davis, Thin White Rope). The popeAlopes' quirky pop rhythms and trancey psychedelic flavors (the latter especially on a noisy cover of the Stones' "2000 Light Years from Home") provide An Adder's Tale with some personality; otherwise, the band's western-flavored guitar rock runs a bit on the generic side.

It's probably not due to the change in bassists, but the confident Kerosene is much better, a striking-sounding wash of layered guitar and Steven Dueker's quietly haggard vocals. While the heavy atmospherics overcome songwriting deficiencies, the popeAlopes spin echoes of U2, R.E.M. and the Psych Furs into the stew, making Kerosene a dose of the right medicine.

[Ira Robbins]