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Upon leaving the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 1992, guitarist John Frusciante delved into home recording, eventually completing a 12-track album titled Niandra Lades that bore the influence of '60s oddballs like Syd Barrett and Captain Beefheart. Niandra Lades languished on the shelf for a while until it was paired with another 12-track collection of Frusciante's home-taping efforts; this one, titled Usually Just a T-Shirt, concentrated on pleasant psychedelic instrumentals with plenty of backward-guitar effects. While some might find the jump from bizarre vocal numbers to atmospheric instrumentals (and the resultant shift in mood) a bit jarring, the two halves do share certain characteristics. Frusciante's singing voice has a fragile, wispy quality that sits well next to the often delicate second half, and the sparse arrangements of the first half help set the stage for the gossamer guitar work later on. Because the whole project has a definite stream-of-consciousness feel, it does fall prey to underdeveloped ideas at times, but overall, Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt is an intriguing and unexpected departure from Frusciante's work with the Chili Peppers. ~ Steve Huey
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