By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
THE THIRD UNHEARD: CONNECTICUT HIP HOP 1979-1983
No lost Spoonie Gees or Melle Mels, and half the beats are "Good Times." But these rediscovered 12-inches aren't the usual humdrum crate-digger arcana. In precise parallel to the first run of punk 45s, spirit is all: you won't just be reminded that early hip-hop was about having fun, you'll have fun. Main man Mr. Magic raps the oldest rhymes in the book with a sense of entitlement that grants them life, while young Pookey Blow advising kids to stay in school and the lisping boasts of that dummy Woodie are timeless novelties you'll find nowhere else. A MINUS
Dud of the Month
A Ghost Is Born
Not counting the 11-minute synth drone that Jeff Tweedy says reminds him of his migraines, the most blatant of the mannerisms that riddle this privileged self-indulgence is its dynamic strategy. Play the soft parts loud enough to hear and the loud parts will demonstrate the limitations of your cheapjack sound system, you pathetic transistorized consumer clone. Fortunately, there is a counterstrategy. Play the soft parts as faintly as they deserve and you'll still be able to make out the guitar workouts that are the only conceivable attraction the album will hold for any neutral party not seeking an associate degree in sound engineering. Once Tweedy wrote legible songs. They didn't add up to much because he didn't, but they had their shallow charms. Here he's beyond such compromises. "Handshake Drugs" we get, and the NPR-ready one about the best songs not getting on the radio is a clever feint. But it's hard to imagine any of the suckers who fell for the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot hype striving to identify with, say, "Muzzle of Bees." Not impossible. Just hard. B MINUS
One Monkey Don't Stop No Show
Per Second, Per Second, Per Second . . . Every Second
Gettin' in Over My Head
Additional Consumer News
The Real New Fall
"I hate the country sound so much/I hate the country folk so much" ("Boxoctosis," "Contraflow").
Revolutionary Vol. 2
He's got rhymes, he's got flow, he's got beats, and he wants the world to know that 9/11 was an inside job ("Obnoxious," "Crossing the Boundary").
The Lemon of Pink
Ambient musique concrète out of acoustic instruments, fractured song structures, and talky voices ("Tokyo," "The Future, Wouldn't That Be Nice?").
THE GEORGE W. BUSH SINGERS
Songs in the Key of W
He calls, they respond; he loses and we get to make Dubya jokes, we lose and he gets to make First Amendment jokes ("War in Iraq," "Peeance Freeance").
BIG & RICH
Horse of a Different Color
More funny than smart, meaning too cornball to truly kick Montgomery Gentry's ass ("Rolling [The Ballad of Big & Rich]," "Kick My Ass").
Platinum role model can't help helping others, so she tries to help other girls avoid this mistake ("Eight Easy Steps," "Doth I Pretend Too Much").
RBG: Revolutionary but Gangsta
Sony Urban Music/Columbia
Crime paysbetter than capitalism, anyway ("Hell Yeah [Pimp the System] [Remix Featuring Jay-Z]," "Fucked Up").
The Gospel Collection
The Possum, Billy Sherrill, and a great American songbook plus ringers ("The Old Rugged Cross," "In the Garden").
Uh Huh Her
A genius's depressions can be as dull as anybody else's, especially if she thinks passion precludes laughs ("It's You," "The Pocket Knife").
Killers and Stars
Sketches and disses living-room style, with a sweet kissoff for Chan Marshall ("Uncle Disney," "Old Timers Disease").
Sometimes Mother Really Does Know Best
Half funny folksongs, half the standup beast itself ("Planet X," "The Legal Ramifications of a Crackerjack Vendor Who Works in Yankee Stadium").
WASHINGTON SOCIAL CLUB
"Nonsense about nothing" puts a cheerful face on the modern trance ("Modern Trance," "Are You High?").
Get Free or Die Tryin'
Inclusive music trumps militant ideology ("Last Days Reloaded," "Window to My Soul").
You Are the Quarry
Less miserable than bitter, as he's always better off admitting ("First of the Gang to Die," "I Have Forgiven Jesus").
With or Without Me
Junior Brown with more jokes and no stupid guitar tricks ("I Love," "Pinto Squire").
Truth Is Not Fiction
The kind of blues where spiritual intensity vanquishes cultural pain ("Past Times," "Walk on Water").
So scabrous and sardonic it's cleansing ("Pimp the System," "Get Ignit").
Punk is eternal, snot not ("Killed by Ants," "Destroy the USA").
"The Mystery of Life"
The Mystery of Life
"You Ain't a Cowboy"
Slash and Burn
"Confessions Part II," "Bad Girl"
THE STARTING LINE
"Make Yourself at Home"
Make Yourself at Home EP
"I Don't Give a . . . "