Crazy Mary

Burning into the Spirit World

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The band's fourth album offers more of the type of appealing, oddball pop that peppered Crazy Mary's first three releases and that understandably endeared it to the college radio crowd, with whom its willful disregard for musical boundaries could best be appreciated. Burning Into the Spirit World may, in fact, be the combo's most charming album to date, and perhaps its most out-there as well. With such singular visions as vaguely hippie-ish worldbeat excursions (the Rusted Root-but-grittier "The Rain in Memphis"), the reggae-tinged ("Moon Song"), kind-of zydeco ("Dancin' with Snakes"), and a spy theme crossed with raga rock (the funky, creeping "Monkey Magic Medicine"), it may take a bit of ear stretching before you find your way into the Crazy Mary orbit. But once there, you may find yourself entranced. And spacey is a description that certainly applies to the album. The album's finest song, "Confusion Reigns," hearkens back to swirling '60s psychedelia, while "Astral Telepathy" constructs a skeletal, otherworldly universe out of phased drums and a xylophone-like gamelan. And any band that is willing to take on Frank Zappa, as Crazy Mary does on "Freak Out," just by virtue of its song title, is worth investigating. The zonked-out surf rock of the song confirms it. Sophia Jackson's unsteady vocalizing just makes you root for her and these songs all the more. More often than not, the rooting is repaid.

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