Issue: #354

JJ Cale, Spyro Gyra, Rick Ross, The Tractors, Polly Scattergood, Quest For Fire, Goo Goo Dolls, Procol Harum, The Dream, LHASA, James Taylor, Various Artists, Woody Guthrie, Metric, Scotty Barnhart, Keith Urban, Chester French, Various Artists, Mat Kearney, The Crystal Method, Steve Martin
THE HIGH FIVE!! Ralph Lalama Quartet "Energy Fields," Mighty Quinn

Christian Finnegan "Au Contraire!," Warner Bros. Nashville

Various Artists "Original Motion Picture Score: Watchmen," Reprise/Warner Bros.

Trey Lookerbie "The Hummingbird EP," Bruce McKay

Jessie James "Self-Titled EP," Mercury/Island Def Jam/Universal

ALBUM OF THE WEEK


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JJ Cale - Roll On


Rounder

Keeping his hands in the music business for over 50 years now, Cale's consistent work and somewhat-regular out put proves his gift for sound. Similar to early Paul Simon in melody usage, Roll On is one stand-alone track after another: each having its own quality and consciousness separate from the rest. This is an album of singles, with no chance of releasing each to make it to the top of the Blues charts. Heavy usage of guitar rhythm, and blues-y pop song construction, Roll On holds true to the most important game in music: writing songs that are good before anything else.

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Spyro Gyra - Down The Wire


Heads Up/Concord

Jazz with endless amounts of slap-bass. You know exactly what this sounds like already. Porno-groove, with lots of funk moments and horn melodies. I couldn't think of dancing to something like this, but I'm sure people can. Not the most inventive record ever, but it has accomplished all it set out to do.

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Rick Ross - Deeper Than Rap


Maybach/Slip N' Slide/Island Def Jam/UMG

Deeper Than Rap's nothing original for sure, but who cares? Rick Ross can, despite a laundry list of embarrassing controversies (over being a prison guard, over refusing to pay child support, and over wearing Louis Vuitton glasses that aren't quite the real thing) can deliver a hip-hop album worthy of recognition.

Solid beats, solid production, and a slew of cameo's that look more like a Grammy afterparty (T-Pain, Lil Wayne, Nas, on and on), and the album is still nothing without Ross's style of aggressive yet relatively intelligent delivery.
 


***Best Album Of The Week***

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The Tractors - Trade Union


Koch/E1

Upbeat big-band country from The Tractors. That doesn't really describe it as well as opening track "Up Jumped the Boogie". Yes, that's the kind of big-band I'm talking about.

A little gimmicky at times, but nothing to be overly annoyed by, Trade Union reeks of good times and good friends. The most negative this album gets is crying over a broken heart, but the rest of the Trade Union resides with dancing and high fives.

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Polly Scattergood - "Self-Titled


Mute

This is the sounds of pure terror. Unabashedly honest and unbelievably scary, Polly Scattergood performs pop music. That's right: pop music. Her formula links drawn out songs and what becomes drone-y structures to create track after track of songs about jealousy, anger, inadequacy, and other damaging human emotions that usually make for the best inspiration.

Music ranges from quiet Vega-esq pop, and upwards to almost Kate Bush styled outlandish indie rock. Moments of Jamboree are fairly evident (if that proves anything in terms of this albums scary-factor), but realistically, no one will sleep any better without it. Highly recommended.

 


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

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Quest For Fire - Self-Titled


Rubric/Tee Pee

Fuzzed out stoner-garage rock. Yes, that is a genre, and that is this band. Think a lo-fi Queens of the Stone Age with a big hard-on for Sleep and no love of sobriety.

Album art proves all: a watercolor of a woman, spewing vomit all over herself, which appears to be in the midst of a supernova or some other space-esq backdrop. Yes, this is tripped out, noisy, and a bit on the mentally unstable side, but who cares? This is what rock is about.

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Goo Goo Dolls - Vol. 2 CD/DVD SET


Warner Bros.

Carrying the image of a one hit wonder, Goo Goo Dolls have taken much more than their allocated 15 minutes. Vol. 2 proves this, ignoring their overgrown count of singles, focusing this collection entirely on non-singles and odds and ends.

The DVD is overloaded with music videos and other interesting tid-bits. My personal favorite off this? The demo version of "Iris", featuring electric drums, synthesized strings, and better production than the City of Angles version.


***LATE BUT GREAT***

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Procol Harum - In Concert With The Danish National Concert Orchestra & Choir


Eagle Rock

While considered prog or psychedelic, this album is neither. In Concert With... stems more from the edges of jazz and pop rather than rock and drugs. Think a better version of Metallica's S&M. Huge orchestral sounds marks this CD from the rest, leaving Brooker to ground the work within the band. Anyone familiar with Procol Harum will certainly pick this out as the real solidifying force of the group, and In Concert With... certainly doesn't faultier there. Great for long time fans.

***Shelton's Single of the Week: "Whiter Shade of Pale,"***

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The Dream - Love vs. Money


Radio Killa/The Island Def Jam

R&B up and comer The Dream's luckily using his vocoder in stride, and using the over-done tricks of today sparingly. Dancible? Check, but mixed amongst some more interesting songs. Posturing? Sure, but only so much to give him a persona; not enough to make him look like a tool. Using repetitive, obnoxious beats into the ground? A bit, for sure, but he's got it miles better than the rest. His voice is, if nothing else, surprising: high pitch, almost feminine, but bleeds into the realm of mid-late era Michael Jackson stature.
 


***MIGHTY, MIGHTY!!***

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LHASA - Self-Titled


Audiogram/Nettwerk/Canada

Beautiful, solemn pop music from LHASA. The album holds a soft-spot for the old ballads of early rock and roll, giving the unique, dreamy tone that has been lost throughout the genre's adolescence. All voices on this album can be amounted to angelic, virtually sounds from heaven. A bit slow, so be wary, but if you take the time with it, sit down, and really listen, LHASA's self-titled album feels like a waking dream.

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James Taylor - Covers


Hear/Concord

Heavyweight James Taylor has released Covers, which was a great idea of his. Cover albums are always hit or miss, but when you hit it right, there is nothing better. Obviously Taylor couldn't fail, so his collection of Smokey Robinson, Leonard Cohen and Buddy Holly covers finally get to experience their proper recognition.

Mostly piano and acoustic guitar driven, Taylor works the songs with his own style, holding back only enough to let the original version shine through the cracks. Taylor at his best.

***Shelton's Single of the Week: "Seminole Wind,"***
 


***Shelton's Single of the Week: "Secret,"***
***LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!!***

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Various Artists - Appalachia: Music From Home


Will Work For Music/Lonsome

Appalachia, a portion of the US that is still a massive mystery to most that live outside its borders, has produced some of the most influencial and inspiring music in American history. Somewhere between bluegrass and folk, the old-timey style is perfected beyond understanding.

Appalachia: Music From Home, without trying, may have dammed all bluegrass musicians not from the area. This album blows everything I have heard out of the water: pure songs with an honest nature, headset on writing great music. Everything in comparison just seems dull and self-involved. Ballads, banjos, and the fresh feel of mountain living: if any of this appeals to you, you need this.

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Woody Guthrie - Struggle


Smithsonian Folkways

Guthrie, Guthrie, Guthrie. The best folk artist of all time's pinnacle of accomplishments. Struggle induces the revolutionary fervor that lost its luster over time, killing the real hope of revolutionary change within the genre that has been commandeered by liberals and right wingers. Some of his best songs, including "Union Burying Ground" and "Pretty Boy Floyd" makes this record essential for any music listener. Ever.

***Shelton's Single of the Week: "1913 Massacre,"***
 


***POLITICAL ALBUM OF THE WEEK***

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Metric - Fantasies


Last Gang/Metric

Metric are infectious. Gothish new-wave in a perfect package, Fantasies, fronted by the beautiful Emily Haines of Broken Social Scene fame, perpetuates the band in ways that no other could. She carries melodies as the perfect New Wave fashion should, but still working with the model of contemporary pop music to create hooks accessible to na•ve 14 year olds and 20-something hipsters.

Despite all the unnecessary hype around this band, and the massive cheesy-ness to this genre, Fantasies will catch you off guard, and trust me, it feels great.

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Scotty Barnhart - Say It Plain


Unity/Dig

Solid grooves from Barnhart. Trumpet master, Scotty has crafted his style of flowing and vaguely masterbatory jazz from the greats: Charles, Coltrane, and the like. Interesting, through and through. The other players of the album certainly hold their weight, occasionally taking their 15 minutes, then smoothly drifting back to the accompaniment.


***NEW ALBUM OF THE WEEK***

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Keith Urban - Self-Titled


Capitol Nashville/EMI

Almost twenty years in the works, Keith Urban's approach to stadium country is as follows: dissect the genre, adjust the pieces, and make the formula for the most solid rock and country album possible. Ripping solos, massive hooks, and 48 minutes of heart-broken crooning, Keith Urban is what all country stars are shooting for.

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Chester French - Love the Future


Star Trak/Interscope

Chester French is a two piece collaboration of D.A. Wallach and Maxwell Drummy. On one hand, they are doing something original: big band set up (credits read at least 25 performers), with contemporary pop sensibilities. Tracks are incredibly catchy, and isn't something you are going to hear at your local coffee shop performing to the five regulars who haven't left yet.

The other hand, unfortunately, is this just sounds like Britney Spears, but less good. "Toxic", while one of my favorite Spears singles, is the framework for the entire record, but minus the edge that makes the song as catchy as it is. This band has potential, yes, but the arrow is a bit off mark still.

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Various Artists - India


Putumayo

A compilation of music originating in India. This one is something to watch for: tones, structures, and melodies that American ears rarely, if ever, have heard.

The music of India serves as a gateway to a whole different world of sounds: instruments go unnamed in the liner notes, leaving listeners searching for their origins; artists names who live in relative obscurity in the states, but have just the following that bands in the US seem to; and with a recipe for Zarda Pulao in the back, how could this go wrong?
 


"SO NICE, GOTTA DO IT UP TWICE"
(created by the original NYC D.J. Jocko, 1955)

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Mat Kearney - City of Black & White


Aware/Columbia/Sony

Singer/songwriter folk for the MTV crowd. Kearney, a Eugene local, creates texture and emotions through the layers of guitars and synths. Sadder songs, yes, but who cares?

This music is jam-packed with emotions, following Kearney's near Mayer-esq vocal melodies. Heavy production, which I don't care much for, but for those who can't get enough Jason Mraz, you are in for a treat.

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The Crystal Method - Divided By Night


Tiny E/INgrooves/Fontana

This is a big disappointment. Crystal Method, until this point have been one of the most impressive electronic acts out there, texturizing dance hits with dark soundscapes and pretty melodies layered behind unidentifiable noise.

Divided By Night is a dumbed down version of all previous releases: melodies are bland, tracks are less noisy, and most of the songs sound virtually the same. This is disappointing to the point where I am actually questioning if this is an authentic release, or a copyright infringement.

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Steve Martin - The Crow


Share/Rounder

Comedian Steve Martin is a musician. Who'd have thought? Not only that: he's really, really good. Great country songs on banjo, with fairly minimal accompaniment, The Crow serves as Martin's first taste of being the spotlight of a music release.

Yes, this is great. His banjo playing is phenomenal, and his voice is...well, a huge surprise. If you've seen The Jerk enough times, it's pretty hard to imagine Martin having a great voice. But he does, and flaunts it all over The Crow. While his comedies were great in the 80's and 90's, Martin has finally found his calling in the new century.


***IF YOU LIKE MUSIC YOU'RE GONNA LOVE THIS!!***

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THIS WEEK'S SONG LYRICS:

Artist: Kanye West
Song: Diamonds Are For Forever

EDITOR'S NOTE: This tragic song is dedicated to the evil Oppenheimer family, and the DeBeers company.

Diamonds are forever
They're all I need to please me
They can't stimulate or tease me
They won't leave in the night
Have no fear that they might
Desert me

(Diamonds are forever forever forever)
Throw ya diamonds in the sky
If you feel the vibe
(Diamonds are forever forever forever)
The ROC is still alive
Everytime I rhyme
(Forever and ever!)
For ever ever? for ever ever? ever ever?
Ever ever? ever ever? ever ever? ever ever?

Good Morning, this ain't Vietnam still
People lose hands, legs, arms for real
Little was known of Sierra Leone
And how it connect to the diamonds we own
When I speak of Diamonds in this song
I ain't talkin bout the ones that be glown
I'm talkin bout Rocafella, my home, my chain
These ain't conflict diamonds,is they Jacob?
don't lie to me mayne
See, a part of me sayin' keep shinin',
How? when I know of the blood diamonds
Though it's thousands of miles away
Sierra Leone connect to what we go through today
Over here, its a drug trade, we die from drugs
Over there, they die from what we buy from drugs
The diamonds, the chains, the bracelets, the charmses
I thought my Jesus Piece was so harmless
'til I seen a picture of a shorty armless
And here's the conflict
It's in a black person's soul to rock that gold
Spend ya whole life tryna get that ice
On a polar rugby it look so nice
How could somethin' so wrong make me feel so right, right?
'fore I beat myself up like Ike
You could still throw ya Rocafella diamond tonight, 'cause

People askin' me is I'm gon' give my chain back (uh)
That'll be the same day I give the game back (uh)
You know the next question dog 'yo, where Dame at?'(uh)
This track the Indian dance to bring our reign back (whoo!)
'wassup wit you a Jay man, are ya'll okay man?'
Yep!
I got it from her 'ye damn!
The chain remians, the gang is in tact
The name is mine, I'll take blame for that
The pressure's on, but guess who ain't gon' crack? [laughs]
Pardon me I had to laugh at that
How could you falter when you're the rock of gibralter
I had to get of the boat so I could walk on water
This ain't no tour order, this is nothin to me
Difficult takes a day, impossible takes a week
I do this in my sleep,
I sold Kilos of coke, (so?) I'm guessin' I can sell CD's
I'm not a buisness man I'm a buisness, man
Let me handle my buisness, damn!
Kanyeez you got me, Freeway and Foxy
YG', Teairra Mari, Petey watch me
Bleek could be one hit away his whole career
As long as I'm alive, he's a millionaire
And even if I die, he's in my will somewhere
So he can just kick back and chill somewhere, oh yeah
He don't even have to write rhymes
The Dynasty like my money last three lifetimes
Shirley Bassey was in the rear sayin exactly
What I was sayin practically me whole carreer
The diamond is forever, I been mindin' this forever
Now the Louis Vuitton Don's timin' couldn't be better
People lined up to see the Titanic sinkin'
Instead we rose from the ash like a phoenix
If you watin for the end of the dynasty sign
It would would like forever is a mighty long time
I'm young b*****s
Goodnight!