ATOM AND HIS PACKAGE: Redefining Music: CD

If you’ve never heard of Atom, it’s a hard sell. “Uhm, it’s this Jewish guy who tours the land solely with his synthesizer and his wits to protect him. He got threatened to be doused with a bucket of blood in Wyoming.” But he’s much more than that. Live, he rocks the house. Serious. Although not quite a redefinition, Atom’s surely exploring some fun stuff. Think of an extremely warm‑sounding Devo crossed with the gleeful abandon of Masters of the Obvious (if you’ve never listened to MOTO, do yourself a favor and get the “Bolt” LP ‑ $8 to Box 578912, Chicago, IL60657) with some Weird Al Yankovic poking its nose in here and there. What makes the kitsch/ joke value almost irrelevant is fact that Atom makes Grade A, excellent songs; little poisonous capsules that sound like simple sugar until you realize how damn catchy they are. No matter how hard you shake your head, those little ditties stick. They’re layered, catchy, structured really well, and thoughtful. Songs range from whatever happens to be on his mind: “I’m going on a shopping spree,” to a workmate being “undercover funny,” to a plea for the Washington Redskins to change their name, to “Oh, I get it. Anarchy means you can litter.” If you’re already familiar with Atom, this album’s a natural extension of “Making Love.” He’s definitely developed a steadier music and a tighter album as a whole. Parting shot: if the popular ’80s new wave had a sense a humor and more balls than hairspray, distilled through thousands of van miles, you’d get Atom.

 –todd (Hopeless)