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Harmonies and Abysses

Across the sky sheet the impossible birds in a steady illiterate movement homewards

Stuffed-up flow. Championship scratching. A lid on the C-movie dialogue. "Titty fat"/"kitty cat"/"pretty hat"/"pitty-pat"/"kiddies, brats"/"shitty gats"/"where they at"/ "city rats"/"gritty stats"/"chicks be at"/ "chitty-chat"/"pity that." "Instincts"/"pink drinks." Any questions? A MINUS

Stream "Back End" (MP3) Stream "Dope Skiller" (MP3)

YOHIMBE BROTHERS
The Tao of Yo
(Thirsty Ear)

Where the debut emulated drum'n'bass, this time their avant-funk puts its sonics across by spacing out four compelling vocals: Chuck D stand-in Traz's "More From Life" ("economic equality"), Flavor Flav stand-in Bos Omega's "TV" ("and a big old chair"), Rubén Blades stand-in Ricky Quinones's "No Pistolas" ("Si tu quieres bailar/Si tu quieres gozar/Es bien, pero . . . "), and Bobby McFerrin stand-in Taylor McFerrin's "Words They Choose" (he's worried, unhappy). In the new millennium, you see, we use liberal politics to sell music. It has that aura of the forbidden. A MINUS

"Shine For Me" (MP3) "TV" (MP3) "Thirty Spokes" (MP3)

ZAMBUSH VOL. 1
(SWP import)

"Zambian Hits from the 80s"—hence, geographically and musically midway between Congolese rhumba and Zimbabwean chimurenga, which contained rhumba to begin with. Population under 6 million then, close to 10 million now—though the great preponderance of these musicians died in between, AIDS and the local kachasu homebrew having taken their occupational toll and then some. Cheerful in affect, moralistic in content—the brightest warns against kachasu itself. But though I'm glad its creator survived, I wish there was more evidence that these musical homilies made a difference in the lives of those who created or heard them—after the musical moment itself, when they clearly did what they were supposed to. B PLUS

Stream The Five Revolutions' "Kachasu"


Dud of the Month

GREEN DAY
American Idiot
(Reprise)

If you're wondering what this concept album means, don't labor over the lyric booklet. As Billie Joe knows even if he doesn't come out and say it—he doesn't come out and say lots of obvious stuff—this is a visual culture. So examine the cover. That red grenade in the upraised fist? It's also a heart—a bleeding heart. Which he heaves as if it'll explode, only it won't, because he doesn't have what it takes to pull the pin. The emotional travails of two clueless punks—one passive, one aggressive, both projections of the auteur—stand in for the sociopolitical content that the vague references to Bush, Schwarzenegger, and war (not any special war, just war) are thought to indicate. There's no economics, no race, hardly any compassion. Joe name-checks America as if his hometown of Berkeley was in the middle of it, then name-checks Jesus as if he's never met anyone who's attended church. And to lend his maunderings rock grandeur, he ties them together with devices that sunk under their own weight back when the Who invented them. Sole rhetorical coup: makes being called a "faggot" something to aspire to, which in this terrible time it is. C PLUS


Additional Consumer News
Honorable Mention

TOM WAITS
Real Gone
(Anti-)

Shtick fights funk to the death, yielding both a circus spiel with some laughs in it and a battlefield habanera worthy of Motörhead ("Hoist That Rag," "Top of the Hill").

Stream "Hoist That Rag" (MP3) Stream "Shake" (MP3)

THIS MOMENT IN BLACK HISTORY
Midwesterncuttalistick
(Version City)

Seventeen songs in 33 minutes by Cleveland Voidoids/Fugazi fans who still read the newspaper ("Beans and Rice," "Art Project," "Paint Me a Picture").

"Beans and Rice" (MP3) "Progress for Real" (MP3) "Electric Grandlover" (MP3)

THE ROUGH GUIDE TO MEDITERRANEAN CAFÉ MUSIC
(World Music Network import)

Worldly Christians meet secular Muslims, often in joints swank enough to feature a piano (Maurice El Médioni, "Bienvenue —Abiadi"; Eda Zari, "Ra Faja").

Sample Track (MP3)

MF DOOM
Mm . . Food?
(Rhymesayers Entertainment)

Eat the theme up with your mouth Doom ("Hoecakes," "Kon Queso").

Stream "Hoecakes" (Real) Stream "Potholderz" (Real)

TRIBAL BAHIA: THE BEST OF TIMBALADA
(Universal)

Carlinhos Brown and associates do their drum-and-chant thing (Carlinhos Brown, "Canto Pro Mar"; Carlinhos Brown/Cicero Menenez, "Margarida Perfumada").

"Canto Pro Mar" (WMA) "Margarida Perfumada" (WMA)

CRAIG TABORN
Junk Magic
(Thirsty Ear)

In a noisy way ("Mystero," "The Golden Age").

"Stalagmite" (MP3) "Prismatica" (MP3)

RIO BAILE FUNK: FAVELA BOOTY BEATS
(Essay import)

In Brazil as anywhere else, the sound of poverty can be a stark thing (Bonde do Tiagro, "O Baile Todo"; Furacao 2000, "Mengao 2000").

Bonde Do Tiagro's "O Baile Todo" (MP3) Furacao 2000's "Mengao 2000" (MP3)

U2
How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb
(Interscope)

Pop music as spiritual balm—there are worse ideas ("Miracle Drug," "Vertigo").

Stream "Vertigo" Stream "Miracle Drug"

MANNIE FRESH
The Mind of Mannie Fresh
(Cash Money/Universal)

"From Mexico to China/All I want is vagina" ("Not Tonight," "We Fresh").

Stream "Real Big" (Real)

DARRYL WORLEY
(DreamWorks)

Has good enough values as long as he doesn't apply them too far from home ("I Love Her, She Hates Me," "Work and Worry").

Preview Album

THE KILLERS
Hot Fuss
(Island)

If only A Flock of Seagulls could do their hair ("Jenny Was a Friend of Mine," "Somebody Told Me").

Preview Album (Real and WMA)

RANDY TRAVIS
Passing Through
(Word/Curb/Warner Bros.)

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