Issue: #341

ALBUM REVIEWS


Mudvayne,
Ray J,
Bob Dylan,
Kate Buckell & The Folks,
Volcano Suns,
Stacie Rose,
The Motown Collection,
Psychic Ills,
Norma Jean,
Paul Van Dyk,
James 'Yank' Rachell,
Fake Problems,
Buena Vista Social Club,
Thom Schuyler,
Cadillac Records,
Big Shanty,
Blackmore's Night,
Maroon 5,
Novalima,
Roy Clark,
Enya

THE HIGH FIVE!!
  • Colette "If," Om
  • Eulogies "Tempted To Do Nothing EP," Dangerbird/ADA
  • Mezklah "Bestia Sonika EP," Self-Released
  • Jan Horvah "Never Too Late," Self-Released
  • Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears "Self-Titled EP," Lost Highway/UMG
ALBUM OF THE WEEK


Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs - Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006
Political Song of the Week:

Randy Newman's - "A Few Words In Defense Of Our Country"
Political Article of the Week:

Barack Be Good by Paul Kurgman

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Album Reviews:


Mudvayne - The New Game (Deluxe Version)

Mudvayne -
The New Game


Epic/Sony BMG

The winning question of the day: does adding "gaming" to the concept of "nu-metal" make it worse or better? Did making the newest Mudvayne album a murder mystery add anything at all?

Well, the music hasn't gotten much better: the same...vein... of nu-metal with few to no interesting riffs, lyrics, or song structure. Mostly just a bunch of dudes playing dude music. This is the sort of sound that a bunch of nerdy white boys kill themselves over. The same bunch of nerdy white boys who would probably be playing D&D and would greatly appreciate an RPG mixed with nu-metal. The answer to the initial question, then, is: yes, this was a good idea. It saves all of their fans a few bucks on going out and buying the rule book to their next game.

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Ray J - All I Feel

Ray J -
All I Feel


Deja34/KO/Koch/Epic/Sony BMG

More mainstream hip-hop with a lot of ridiculous effects that is blurring the lines between what is hip-hop and pop music. That kind of depresses me, but unfortunately sometimes the music turns out pretty good.

Ray J isn't all that bad: weird vocal effects along the lines of a vocoder, poppy beats with slight gangster rap edges, and a vocal melody that could either have been lifted from Boys 2 Men or Aguilera. His voice is, despite the vocoder, pretty good, and his melodies, while a little weird, work for him. Over all, this is a good album.

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Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs - Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006

Bob Dylan -
Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006


Legacy/Columbia/Sony BMG

Light-years ahead of his time (and ours), Bob Dylan was perhaps one of the most influential voices in music. Creating his own style, smashing all the rules, and giving a whole new idea to the "personality" behind music, Dylan's influence is unwavering.

With literally millions of recordings under his belt and so few actually released, Tell Tale Signs: Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 is only a piece of these unreleased recordings: this is the 8th in the series. Some of them are alternative versions, some were never released, and yes, a few covers thrown in, this is for every fan to love. Not really as good as the rest of his work; this is still Dylan: this is still phenomenal.


***Shelton's Single Of The Week: "Most Of The Time"***

Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8: Tell Tale Signs - Rare and Unreleased 1989-2006 - Most of the Time

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Kate Buckell & The Folks -
Self-Titled


Self-Released

Buckell & The Folks play Irish-esq folk music, with a certain singer/songwriter feel. Heavy use of alternative instruments (flute, strings, and what I think may be mandolin at times) makes their Irish accents more apparent, which in my opinion is a good thing. Certainly interesting and enjoyable, this is for any of those into the coffee-shop folk crowd.

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Volcano Suns - The Bright Orange Years

Volcano Suns -
The Bright Orange Years


Merge

So this is one of those rare-gems that we get in at JSI Top 21: Volcano Suns, one of the follow up bands to indie-rock pioneers Mission of Burma. Taking on the, well, almost perfect sounds of Husker Du and The Hated, Volcano Suns are not quite post-punk or indie rock, or even rock and roll, but somewhere in-between it all. Lo-fi recording, amazing songs, lots of the same drum beat, and, honestly, some of the best vocals ever, this is an album that just about everyone needs to get.


***ARTIST TO WATCH!!!***

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Stacie Rose - Shotgun Daisy

Stacie Rose -
Shotgun Daisy


Enchanted

The brand of female singer/songwriter folk like Cat Power, or anyone a bit poppier than that, is the niche that Stacie Rose has made in her music. Lyrics seem to be that of mainstream pop, but the music changes that feel: it is far too dynamic and interesting.

Sometimes heavily distorted guitars, sometimes heavier pop echos, even a few pieces of electronics thrown in, this is something new. At moments it gets a bit too bland, but for the most part it all stands up to its own weight.

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Marvin Gaye - Hitsville USA - The Motown Singles Collection, 1959-1971

Various Artists -
The Motown Collection


Time Life/Universal

Time Life just keeps doing what it does best with this hits collection. This album compiles standout tracks from across the Motown catalogue and provides a stellar document of early '70s funk and soul. None of these songs are new or exclusive to this release, but they are certainly timeless, and the CD is worth it for the convenience of having all of these songs together.

Motown created a sound with these songs, and jumpstarted the careers of countless legendary musicians. Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, The Jackson 5; they're all here. These songs are mandatory listening, so if you aren't familiar, now's the time.



***LATE BUT GREAT***


***Shelton's Second Single Of The Week: "Marvin Gaye: Stubborn Kind Of Fellow"***

Marvin Gaye - The Motown Story, Vol. 1 - The 1960s - Stubborn Kind of Fellow

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Psychic Ills - Mirror Eye

Psychic Ills -
Mirror Eye


The Social Registry

I passionately hate psych-rock. A lot. I think Psychic Ills may be given a bad wrap by that label. This is far too noisy and awkward to be psych-rock. Lots of strange effects on top of weird guitar playing and a grim haze casted over everything in the form of massive amounts of reverb, Mirror Eye is a drug trip taken out of context: just weird but interesting.

Long, drawn out sounds, and a decent amount of dynamics, this could be the album for you. That is, if you can stand 11 minute songs that have very few changes, and, must love weed or LSD.

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Norma Jean - The Anti Mother

Norma Jean -
Vs. The Anti Mother


Solid State/EMI

More chugging than a frat party and song-names that 90% of the population would find, at best, puzzling, Norma Jean are back again. Possibly more intense than their previous attempts, Vs. The Anti Mother (which I can only hope is a play on Seaguy's supervillian Anti Dad) collects their previous genre's of christian metalcore, slight innuendos of sass-rock, and the heavyness of past metal outfits ala Zao, and turns it into something more conformed to their own identity than a replication of previous attempts at hardcore.

With the new emphasis on three guitar players (which, speaking from personal experience, is always a great idea in metal) adds more depth and texture than ever before, while production remains crystal clear and intense. The name should be a household one in the metalcore scene, so you should already own this.



***MIGHTY, MIGHTY!!***

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Paul van Dyk - Hands On In Between

Paul Van Dyk -
Hands On In Between


Mute

By far and large one of the best European DJ's at the moment, Paul Van Dyk has mastered the art of techno. Incredibly innovative beats, creative structures, and more bounce than a six year old with ADHD, Hands On In Between's sometimes dreamy soundscapes and intense rave-themes have created an album so full and well developed that the envelope of Djing as we know it is readily adapting for a more high-stakes playing field.

Dyk took his previous release (In Between), and added more flair, more originality, and yes, more synthesized drums. With some amazing cameo's (members of both the Pussycat Dolls and Talking Heads among others), Hands On In Between is Van Dyk's best work to date.

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Greg Ashby - A Tribute to the Legendary Blues Mandolin Man James ?Yank? Rachell

Various Artists -
James 'Yank' Rachell: A Tribute to the Legendary Blues Mandolin Man


Yanksville

Old blues is, honestly, the genre that defined "soul". Emotion and politics all wrapped in one, blues made music what it is today. James Yank Rachell, defining what it meant to have mandolin in blues, was a prodigy. Unbelievable musicianship, not to mention even better writing skills and an amazing voice, Rachell mastered his skill to perfection.

This tribute album is a benefit for his granddaughter, Sheena (occasional bass player for her grandfather), who is suffering from a rare lung disease. Buy this album for two great causes: helping to pay her medical expenses and spreading good music in the world.



***LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!!***

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Fake Problems

Fake Problems -
It's Great To Be Alive


SideOneDummy

Against Me meets Flogging Molly, perhaps. It's Great To Be Alive may not be the best album ever written, but it gets points for style. It's punk while still being pop. It manages something original, which I personally am not super into, is something that tons of people will love.

Heartfelt songs, catchy melodies, and interesting progressions, Fake Problems have the potential to come into their own someday and become something that I will be super into. Until then, I can just commend them on creating a new formula.

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Buena Vista Social Club - Buena Vista Social Club At Carnegie Hall

Buena Vista Social Club -
At Carnegie Hall


World Circuit/Nonesuch/Warner Bros.

The top selling "world-music" album of all time, Buena Vista Social Club At Carnegie Hall is a stellar piece of work. A music collective, the Social Club's Latin-jazz fusion is original in style and feel, but keeping traditional progressions and sounds around enough to make sure conservative listeners don't get lost in it all. Beautiful songs, a whole lot of music, and not a single negative about it; this album is a solid piece of history.


EDITOR''S NOTE: Cuba si, yanquino. Viva Fidel!



***POLITICAL ALBUM OF THE WEEK***

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Thom Schuyler -
Prayer of a Desperate Man


Self-Released

Schuyler has been performing and writing for years, and he isn't about to stop now. He is just writing better and better songs. Prayer of a Desperate Man is a country album that is honest and straightforward, the way country music should really be.

Using the formula that I love (focusing almost entirely on the vocals and guitar, with everything else as background), he manages to get his songs across without distractions of production. For any country music listener.

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Beyoncé - Cadillac Records (Music from the Motion Picture) [Deluxe Version]

Various Artists -
Music From The Motion Picture Cadillac Records


Music World/Columbia/Sony BMG

This is seriously a week for some classy music. Usually soundtracks bore the hell out of me: nothing interesting about them, maybe a good song or two at most, and god forbid there's a song that was in the actual movie; it usually is a butchered rendition of some classic song.

The Cadillac Records soundtrack, on the other hand, does completely unbutchered renditions of classic songs: entirely unbutchered classic blues songs. Performed by contemporaries (Jeff Wright, Beyonce, Mos Def, and a few others), the soundtrack takes songs like "Once In A Lifetime", or "I'm A Man", and lets present day musicians with talent perform the tracks as originals, and it works out AMAZINGLY. The movie itself is about the record label these tracks came from, so, if they come close to the caliber of these songs, we have another winner.

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Big Shanty - Sold Out

Big Shanty -
Sold Out...


King Mojo/Select-O-Hits

Big Shanty's put a little swing in his blues for Sold Out, but still doesn't really make it up to par. His vocal delivery, while at times endearing, usually comes across embarrassing. Lots of cheesy guitar wailing, and really silly programmed drums, and not even the swing elements can save this.

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Blackmore's Night - Secret voyage

Blackmore's Night -
Secret Voyage


Mistrel Hall/Steamhammer/SPV

This is actually beyond belief. One of the lead dudes from Deep Purple, playing in a Ren. Fair themed Euro-folk where they wear costumes, and occasionally sing about what might as well be Lord Of The Rings, I can't take this as serious.

There are a few huge solo's behind all of the nonsense, which almost works. Blackmore's Night is kind of awesome from its sheer embarrassing existence, but aside from that I can't say that I enjoyed this.

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Maroon 5 - Call and Response: The Remix Album

Maroon 5 -
Call And Response: The Remix Album


A&M/Octone/UMG

This band is a really hard dilemma for myself. On one hand, the band plays a white soul; white soul itself being a paradox since white soul has no emotion to it. On the other hand, this band is really, really good.

They manage to make a genre of music that borders on embarrassing because of it's lack of anything real so unbelievably well done that it is hard to completely hate it. Call And Response is a remix album, comprising of remixes of their better songs. They don't change all that much from the originals, just a bit more over the top with weird sounds mixed in, and a few DJ shout-outs.



"SO NICE, GOTTA DO IT UP TWICE"

(created by the original NYC D.J. Jocko, 1955)

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Novalima - Coba Coba

Novalima -
Coba Coba


Cumbancha

Collective band Novalima are considered an "Afro-Peruvian" band with electronics. It sounds a lot like Afro-Cuban upbeat jazz with looped electronics behind all of it.

It comes across incredibly dynamic and engaging, giving it an almost hip-hop esq feel for just a moment and then coming all the way back to Afro-Peruvian. Lots of interesting sounds thrown in there, endless catchy vocal loops, and yeah, this is another stellar album.

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Roy Clark

Roy Clark -
Timeless: The Classsic Concert Performances


Varese Sarabande/Fontana

As Elvis became at the end of his career, Roy Clark was a performer almost as much as he was a country musician. He was a personality for hire: an entertainer. And he was great at it.

And his music wasn't bad either. It was, in actuality, huge music: over the top horn sections and choirs, kind of cheesy-but-totally acceptable transitions, and a variety of styles (country, country rock, country jazz and blues), Clark didn't miss a beat. The Classic Concert Performances, also, are right on: tight playing, Clark at his peak, and, really, his best songs.

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Enya - And Winter Came

Enya -
And Winter Came


Reprise/Warner Bros.

I realize that people love Enya, and yeah, I can't lie and say I didn't enjoy a few of the singles that she let loose. But, unfortunately, I can't say much about this album that is all that nice, aside from she is mindblowingly talented.

It's all Christmas music. And, being a Jew on Christmas, for all intents and purposes, is the definition of misery. Sorry, I just can't even listen to this. If you like Christmas and Enya, I couldn't see anything wrong with this.

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Political Song:
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Artist: Randy Newman

Song: A Few Words In Defense Of Our Country

I'd like to say

A few words

In defense of our country

Whose people aren't bad

Nor are they mean

Now, the leaders we have

While they're the worst that we've had

Are hardly the worst

This poor world has seen



Let's turn history's pages, shall we?



Take the Caesars, for example

Why, with the first few of them

They were sleeping with their sister, stashing little boys in swimming pools, and burning down the city

And one of 'em, one of 'em appointed his own horse to be Counsel of the Empire

That's like vice president or something

That's not a very good example right now, is it?

But here's one:

Spanish Inquisition

That's a good one

Put people in a terrible position

I don't even like to think about it

Well, sometimes I like to think about it



Just a few words

In defense of our country

Whose time at the top

Could be coming to an end

Now, we don't want their love

And respect at this point's pretty much out of the question

But in times like these

We sure could use a friend



Hitler

Stalin

Men who need no introduction



King Leopold of Belgium, that's right

Everyone thinks he's so great

Well, he owned the Congo

He tore it up too

Took the diamonds

Took the silver

Took the gold

You know what he left 'em with?



Malaria



You know, a president once said, "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"

Now it seems like we're supposed to be afraid

It's patriotic, in fact

Color-coded

What we supposed to be afraid of?

Why, of being afraid

That's what terror means, doesn't it?

That's what it used to mean




You know, it pisses me off a little that this Supreme Court's gonna outlive me

Couple young Italian fellas and a brother on the Court now too

But I defy you, anywhere in the world, to find me two Italians as tightass as the two Italians we got

And as for the brother

Well, Pluto's not a planet anymore either



The end of an empire

Is messy at best

And this empire's ending

Like all the rest

Like the Spanish Armada

Adrift on the sea

We're adrift in the land of the brave

And the home of the free



Goodbye

Goodbye

Goodbye