By Bob Ruggiero
By Hilary Hughes
By Peter Gerstenzang
By David R. Adler
By Devon Maloney
By Brian McManus
By Jessica Hopper
By Harley Oliver Brown
RUN THE ROAD
One so wants to give British MCs the benefit of the doubt. They're sincere, they're determined, and they've paid their dues. So this useful little collection will be praised like The Harder They Come when it's more African Underground Vol. 1: engaging yes, delightful no. As with African Underground, there's a language barrier, albeit a less insuperable one. But with grime there's also a music barrier: The beats are so squelchy (complexly squelchy here, but still) that when Dizzee Rascal and the Streets come on, they could be Just Blaze bum-rushing the permissions department. Three female voices also provide welcome illusions of grace. In fact, Lady Sovereign's cheap, cute "Cha Ching" is delightful. A MINUS
Great start: two songs in which gender spirals down the rabbit hole are followed by a Pink Floyd cover done Bee Gees-style. These star-time party boys never get brasher, funnier, or better, and their midtempo Elton isn't ironic enough. But this has more pride than competing gay masscult takeovers, which makes it more liberating for us all. Bless them for lending a queer ear to an ominously straight year. B PLUS
Dud of the Month
Want One moved well-wishers to decry the evil corporation that forbade its prestige artiste to pile all the post-rehab "songs" he recorded with Björk hand Marius deVries onto one glorious double CD. But had any of them actually heard the lachrymosities he saved for part two? Get Jon Brion in here quick, Van Dyke Parks even, "The Art Teacher" is worth saving. His mom will still love him, that's somethingthank God for her cameo. For less sanguine admirers, however, this is too classical, too romantic, and too I-yam-what-I-yam all at once. B MINUS
Additional Consumer News
EAGLES OF DEATH METAL
Peace Love Death Metal
Dark secrets of the counterculture revealedsexism! greed! hooks! ("San Berdoo Sunburn," "Kiss the Devil").
WAR (IF IT FEELS GOOD, DO IT!)
Mash up the bushit (Azeem, "Bush Is a Gangsta"; DJs of Mass Destruction, "Liberate the Children (Live)"; 4AM, "InDaClub").
The Slow Wonder
Compulsive craftsmen have feelings toothey're just nervous about letting them show ("Miracle Drug," "Come Crash").
Better Sh!*$ on the Way!
Sound kind of Giant Sand, think more Hold Steady ("Hey MoeYou Kicked Ass," "Apt. K").
THE REVEREND AL GREEN
Not greatOK ("I Can Make Music," "I Wanna Hold You").
BEMBEYA JAZZ NATIONAL
The Syliphone Years
Guinea's socialist dream in one decade and two CDs ("Armée Guinéene," "Telephone").
THE ROUGH GUIDE TO REBETIKA
World Music Network
From the sound of these old Mediterranean café songs, it could be Jews or North Africans singing, but it's Greeks (Roza Eskenazi, "Enas Mangas Sto Teke Mou"; Markos Vamvakaris, "Antonis Varkaris Seretis").
Blake Shelton's Barn & Grill
Humanist country, Bobby Braddock-style ("Cotton Pickin' Time," "The Bartender").
Unlike true turntablism fans, I'm glad Shadow casts such a shadow ("Big Lost," "Sarah").
I CAN LICK ANY SONOFABITCH IN THE HOUSE
In Music We Trust
It's the right historical moment for pissed-off catharsis and praise songs to your dead Christian grandma ("Westboro Baptist Church," "Pauline").
An hour of foreplay and he's ready for more ("The One for Me," "So Hot").
THE HOLY MODAL ROUNDERS
Bird Song: Live 1971
Different songs, good drummer ("Boobs a Lot/Willie & the Hand Jive," "Smokey Joe's Cafe").
DE LA SOUL
The Grind Date
Weary blues from waiting ("The Grind Date," "Rock Co.Kane Flow").
A Job Ain't Nuthin But Work
Fat Beats/Old Maid Entertainment
Rapper wants a tuna sandwich with all the fixings, hold the tuna, and can you supersize a tap water with that? ("Disco Ho," "Kill Pretty").
Giant Sand Is All Over the Map
"Shake a Body," "Monkey Business," "Sunset Drive"
(The Ultimate Collection, Epic/Legacy)
"I Need Your Love in My Life"
(Make Do With What You Got, Shout! Factory)
"Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole"
(Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole, Zoe)
"I Can Change"
(Get Lifted, Getting Out Our Dreams/Sony Urban/Columbia)
"In the Event," "Listen to the Painters"
(Turn, Touch and Go)
Faded Seaside Glamour
Put the O Back in Country
The Rest Is History
LADYSMITH BLACK MAMBAZO WITH THE ENGLISH CHAMBER ORCHESTRA