Issue: #348

ALBUM REVIEWS


K'naan,
Above & Beyond,
Van Morrison,
Beirut,
Red Jumpsuit Apparatus,
Bobby Womack,
Ted Nugent,
Kate Campbell,
Mastadon,
Sonny Rollins,
Missy Higgins,
Safetysuit,
Robert F. Williams,
Bloc Party,
Swamp Rat,
Pieces of a Dream,
Chris Cornell,
Deftones,
Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears,
Chris Isaak,
Soulja Boy

THE HIGH FIVE!!
  • Man on Earth "The Time Spent Wondering," Forward Thinking
  • Josiah Leming "Angels Undercover EP," Reprise/Warner Bros.
  • Arthur Godfrey "Broken Wings," Self-Released
  • Celeste Krenz "My Mother & Me," High Horse
  • Various Artists "Toolroom Knights: A Journey Through the Worlds Finest House Music Mixed by Mark Knight DOUBLE CD," Toolroom
ALBUM OF THE WEEK

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Album Reviews:

K'naan -
Troubadour


Octone/A&M/Universal

How have I missed this until now? K'naan's performance as one of the best MC's I have heard in a long time is almost marginalized by the unparalleled beats: vaguely old-school, partially Euro-hop, and a whole lot of influence from K'naan's birthplace of Somalia, Troubadour has blown me away.


Lyrically it's genius, the delivery and flow are perfected, and content is about how miserable the world is. It doesn't get much better than this.

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Above & Beyond -
Anjunadeep:01


Ultra

Remixes from Above & Beyond. Lots of downtempo remixes from artists I've never heard. Pretty? Yes. Pretty boring? Totally.

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Van Morrison -
Astral Weeks: Live At The Hollywood Bowl


Capitol/EMI

By far one of the most prolific musicians in recent history. Van Morrison's skills trump even the most innovative of us; my typical response to any of his work is "How on earth did he think of that?" or maybe "Why didn't I think of that already?"


With thousands of releases and centuries under his belt, Morrison has decided to release a live version of Astral Week, one of his earliest and best received album.


While not identical to the original recordings, this Hollywood Bowl performance embodies everything that has made up his musical career: his emotional mumbling/shouting, his unbelievable song and performance craftsmanship, and a sound that is distinctly his. While weaker than the studio recordings, this takes the silver medal: not as good, but still damn near perfect.


***Best Album Of The Week***

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Beirut -
March of the Zapotec/RealPeople Holland DOUBLE EP


Pompeii/Revolver

Hipster artists Beirut struck gold with Gulag Orkestar, but their latest venture with March of Zapotec/RealPeople Holland has taken a good step down. Still surpassing just about everything else that is being played at your local fixed-gear filled coffee shop, this EP collection just loses the charm of their previous work.


Influenced by the "music of the state of Oaxaca", Beirut still uses their local francophilic style of orchestral pop that shows actual artistic skill. While going downhill, still better than the rest.

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Red Jumpsuit Apparatus -
Lonely Road


Virgin/EMI

Heavy metal contemporaries. Weird. They certainly get a stamp of approval for not being a metalcore band, but none-the-less the appeal of big hair and sequenced pants has sort of lost its gleam with its 30 years of retirement.


The production is loud and clear, really the only hint of the time change, but doesn't get much beyond that. So... if you wish Guns 'n Roses would bring back Axl, or Great White hadn't torched their fans, Lonely Road can fulfill your hopes and dreams.



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

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Bobby Womack -
The Poet I & II


Abkco

Soul from Bobby Womack, one of the artisans responsible for writing endless amounts of rock & roll hits (see: "All Over Now" by The Rolling Stones). The Stones are better, but if you are looking for some great rhythm and blues with a solid base in soul, Poet I & II is for you. Music is pretty forgettable, but the Womack's emotional portrayal through his music makes it up.


***Shelton's Single of the Week: "Just My Imagination,"***

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Ted Nugent -
Nugent


Eagle Rock

Loud-mouthed douchebags play the best music. Nugent, for example, is the biggest of them all, but somehow his aggressive brand of heavy rock goes beyond everything. Ever.
Nugent is one of his earlier works, perhaps his pinnacle of perfection, slacking only enough to keep up with his age. If you hate animals and women, Nugent is your best friend. But if you do, fuck you anyways.




***LATE BUT GREAT***


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Kate Campbell -
Save the Day


Large River

Singer-songwriter Kate Campbell constructs emotions through songs, but still falls a bit short of interesting. Run-of the mill recordings, with topics that I have heard a thousand times. Her voice differentiates her from the rest, but that doesn't do much for the music.

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Mastadon -
Blood Mountain


Relapse/Reprise/Warner Bros.

While not the heaviest thing of all time, Blood Mountain gives Black Sabbath a run for their money. Stoner-influenced metal, Mastadon's style is entirely their own: no one can replicate, only imitate.


Honestly, this band's musical style is perhaps the best thing that has been considered for a Grammy for years (yes, that sort of Grammy). With the weight of a thousand pounds of reefer poured into this album, I'd say that everyone should try this out. At least once.



***MIGHTY, MIGHTY!!***

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Sonny Rollins -
Road Shows Vol. 1


Doxy/Emarcy/Decca/UMG

Not related to Henry. Fun, upbeat jazz from a virtually household name. With swing and soul, Rollins has his jazz all figured out: emotional, fun, and perfect for any party. Yes, jazz is the new party music. Keep this in mind for your next mixer.

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Missy Higgins -
On a Clear Night


Eleven/Reprise/Warner Bros.

Really awesome indie-pop of the singer-songwriter variety. Just a lady and her guitar, Higgins is an unbelievable songwriter from opening track "Where I Stood" all the way through "Forgive Me", my personal favorite of the release.
A solid cross of Cat Power and DiFranco, very few come close to this. On a Clear Night is one of those albums that is a whole other ballpark than at least ninety percent of present-day releases.

***Shelton's Single of the Week: "Secret,"***



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


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Safetysuit -
Life Left To Go


Universal Motown

Bad alternative rock from Safetysuit. Opening lyric is "If I was strong enough...". If I was strong enough to actually make it through this record, I could write more, but I really can't.


Just bad melodies, annoying production, and god what an annoying voice. For people who like bad teen romances.

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Robert F. Williams -
Self-Defense, Self-Respect, & Self-Determination as told by Mabel Williams


Mordam/Freedom Archives/Alternative Tentacles/AK Press

Revolutionary black-power activist Robert F. Williams was one of the most unacknowledged and under-respected voices of the last 100 years. He spoke of justice, equity, and a dream of a better world. Racism, as he saw it, was systemic, and equity needs to happen by any means.


Agree or disagree, this audio documentary, brought to us by the angelic workers of AK Press, is a must listen for any who consider that a better world can exist.



***POLITICAL ALBUM OF THE WEEK***

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Bloc Party -
Intimacy


Atlantic/Warner Bros.

How does everyone love this? I enjoy the drunk rambling for it's comedic value, even to the extent that I enjoy The Hold Steady, or possibly Wesley Willis, but how on earth the mainstream can handle this is beyond me.


Weird electronic tones riddle this album, making only the energetic drumming a tangible musical entity on this recording. If you are looking for a drugged out dance party, shit, you have it.

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Swamp Rat -
Swamp Rat


Weston Boys

Noodly jazzy-blues. Perfect driving music to complement your tour through the marshes of the south. Minimal vocals, which are fairly unobtrusive, but manages to add instead of distract from the movement of the melodies. Fairly repetitive, but still rather interesting. This makes a-mazing background music.

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Pieces of a Dream -
Soul Intent


Heads Up/Concord

Elevator jazz with only a little bit more energy than Kenny G. Lots of synthesized instruments, being processed to hell serve as the background for saxaphone and piano soloing.


It's mostly just noodling, and works great as the soundtrack to a bad workout scene, but unless you like sleeping, I'd steer clear.

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Chris Cornell -
Scream


Mosley/Interscope

Cornell has decided soft-rock and fake metal was going nowhere. That's why he hired Timbaland, wrote a bunch of upbeat electronic pop songs, and out came Scream.


The album runs like Justinfied: heavily processed and sensual, upbeat and intelligent. Yes, the singer of Soundgarden is writing intelligent music. If you want semi-celebrity solo r&b albums, Scream is the newest in a wave of voyeurism.

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Deftones -
Saturday Night Wrist


Maverick/Warner Bros.

When nu-metal was first hitting, Deftones were the only band listenable. Now that the fad has finally been whipped out like the plague that it was, Deftones are still one of the few listenable groups.


Saturday Night Wrist is still heavy, still aggressive, but Deftones have found out how to do it better than before: less metal, more dreamy. Lots of reverb, lots of beautiful chords, and so much crooning, this band has yet to get bad.



"SO NICE, GOTTA DO IT UP TWICE"

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

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Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears -
Tell 'Em What Your Name Is!


Lost Highway/Universal

Mediocre blues-rock. Heavily distorted, but still incredibly clean, Tijuana Bible is a boring and typical record for anyone who has listened to more than five blues albums in their life.


Nothing really interesting. Though, in the bands defense, at least they know the genre enough to pull off one of the most run of the mill sounds I have ever heard.

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Chris Isaak -
Mr. Lucky


Reprise/Warner Bros.

Isaak's croons can melt any heart. Not any, actually. Most though. Definitely most. Mr. Lucky is just like that; when you scream enough about your broken heart, you begin to rub it off on the listener.
Soothing and quieter, the album comes more organic that previous while still moving in the direction of progress. His melodies have evolved to the point where they get catchy, and his music has gotten much more creative.


***Shelton's Single of the Week: "Let's Have A Party"***

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Soulja Boy -
iSouljaBoyTellem


Collipark/S.O.D. Money Gang/Interscope

One of the things that is lacking so heavily from hip-hop is the straightforwardness: "classy" beats or huge overproductions, the proverbial "beating around the bush", and stupid presentations are all we can see.


Soulja Boy, you have honestly made the world a better place with iSouljaBoyTellem. Aside from a pointlessly long title, the album runs straight from beginning to end as a powerful ride: no down points, no slow moments, and not a single falter. I can't say enough good things about this.


***If You Like Music You're Gonna Love This***

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THIS WEEK'S SONG LYRICS:


Artist: John McCutcheon

Song: It's The Economy, Stupid


It's the economy, stupid

A victory sign

A mantra

An explanation

A reminder

A warning

An omen

An onus

A threat

It's the economy, stupid



Farmers' wives bring eggs

Chickens

Whole milk

Fresh butter

To the local market

To the store

Come in with groceries

And leave with groceries and money



Small farmers raise crops

For local markets

Up at dawn

Home at dusk

More in fallow

Than under the plow

Dark loam

Rich with earthworms

Defying erosion

Anchoring forest borders

Home for

Game

Shelter

Shade

Now virginity is no longer fashionable

Even in our forests

We will harvest another crop

Of walnut

Cherry, oak

If we only live

Another hundred years.

Man was the last piece

Of creation

And has been playing catch up

Ever since.



Farming is a balance

Of muscle

Daylight

And conservation

Machinery

Becomes the muscle now

Allowing us to work

Into the night.

We plant our debts

Fencerow to fencerow

Swallowing

Every bitter dram

Of expert advice

Until

...drunk with dreams

of fortune

equity

leverage

growth...



We grow

What we cannot use

Purchase

What we used to raise

Spend

What we used to save

Sell

What we used to treasure

Mock

What we used to revere

Hate

What we used to love

It's the economy, stupid



Understand...

I am not a nostalgist

I am a most pragmatic man

I look at what naturally occurs

In the living world...

And see diversity

Not specialization.

I look at

Hometown banks

Restaurants

Hardware stores

Where your name

Is your credit

And decisions are rendered

By people who know you

Where you are more than

The five banks

And the four airlines

And the three newspaper chains

And the two big box stores

And the one-and-a-half political parties

And the one retort:

It's the economy stupid



And the standards

That demand that

Every teacher teaches

Every student

Exactly the same thing

And, like these students

I have to ask "why?"

Why?

It's the economy, stupid



Now those educated

Appraised students

Ride their buses

From their consolidated schools

Back to their small towns and farms

And cannot wait

To drive their cars away

On that highway of diamonds

Into the consolidated cities

Where they look back

In shame

And wonder

Stranded

Between what they know

And what they've been sold

It's the economy, stupid



The economy that looks

For the maximum return

For the quick turnaround

For the short term gain

For the unearned income

For the Big Lotto

It's the economy, stupid



And the economy

Is impatient

It has a short attention span

It is easily bored

It is hungry

It is late for its next appointment

It puts you on hold

It does not return your call

It's the economy, stupid



The economy

Has you working two jobs

It is mandatory overtime

It is expensive sneakers

Made by sweating children

It is cheap food

Picked by landless hands

It is good paying jobs

Disappearing from American towns

And reappearing

Nowhere

It is your closed up main street

And it is your boarded up mill

And it is your condo-minimized factory

And it is your cookie cutter mall

And it is not accountable

It is not America

It's the economy, stupid



The economy now has no borders

Or horizons

Or faces

Or hands

The economy has only one rule:

More.



And the economy lies.

The economy tells us it is about Freedom.

The economy is about Dependence.

Not on land

Or animals

Or weather

Or neighbors

But

On machinery

And fuel

And credit.

Most farmers

Have borrowed their way

Right out of farming.

And

No government loan

No government program

Will change

That cycle.

Because the government

Is powerless now, see...

It's the economy, stupid



And the government is the economy's

Biggest cheerleader.

It plays by the same rules:

The quick fix

The stronger army

The bigger bomb

The dependence on machinery

To do work

That can only effectively be done

By humans.

It consolidates

When diversity is required.



It's about economy

It's about small towns with

Banks

And baseball teams

A general store

Churches

Family cemeteries

A schoolhouse

A lumberyard

A radio station

A newspaper

A roadhouse

A funeral home

A filling station

Open space

Open opportunity

Open eyes

Open hearts

Choice

Recourse

Response

Responsibility

It's about economy