By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Katherine Turman
By Chris Kornelis
By Brian McManus
By Ray Cummings
By Nicholas Pell
Boban Markovic Orkestar
feat. Marko Markovic
In which the most invigorating Balkan brass I know becomes a tad neater under the watchful production of Meddlin' Ben Mandelson. The general air of woofled hilarity continues. But in a slack-wire music of crooked harmonies, naturally occurring dub, and unisons that are no such thing, virtuosity is best deployed in the vicinity of a near miss, and there aren't quite enough of those here. B PLUS
Rebirth of a Nation
PE's best album in nearly a decade was overseen by Oakland Muslim-stockbroker-revolutionary Paris, who puts his stamp on its functional funk and unyielding class consciousness. In fact, with its international perspective and bitter "People on the bottom kill each other for scraps, "Paris's "Hannibal Lecture" boasts the sharpest lyric on the record. But he's got competitionfrom a retrofitted Jesse Jackson, from Professor Griff if you can believe that, even from reality TV 'ho Flavor Flav: "I'm in your mouth when you wake in the morning/I'm the stink on your breath when you're yawning." But mostly, of course, from Mistachuck, whose musicality carries the recordand who folded in a Katrina song after the CD was done. A MINUS
Livin' With War
OK, more news event than musical milestone. But a really great news eventbelieve me, the '60s never produced an album that felt this much like a peace march. The key is the sense of fellowship, with music carried less by the artist's broad guitar and creaky voice than by loud drums, what-the? horn arrangements, and a hundred-person chorus on every song. The second consecutive Neil Young album where you know what all the words mean (following 50-odd where you didn't) specifies that this radical-of-the-moment is not averse to supporting a repentant Colin Powell. This proves him a populist if anything does. B PLUS
DUD OF THE MONTH
We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions
We shall overkill, he means. Never have his Howard Keel tendencies, or maybe now they're Paul Robeson tendencies, tripped him up so bad. The idea is to big up the music and play the jokes you don't ignore like you're working a Roman amphitheater. I'm glad to have met the anti-war lament "Mrs. McGrath" and Sis Cunningham's "My Oklahoma Home," and sort of hope young people deprived of music appreciation funding will now hear "Erie Canal," "Froggie Went A-Courtin'," "John Henry," and "Jesse James." Only are young people really ignorant of these songs? And how many of them buy Springsteen albums anyway? Amping up his strange bluegrass-Dixieland hybrid like E Street is just around the corner, he sings his lungs out. But in folk music, lightness is alland only newbies and John Hammond Jr. lean so hard on the cornpone drawl. B
Additional Consumer News
Alone at My Wedding
Macedonian tuba funk for that once-in-a-lifetime blowout, its horns, vocals, and beats imbued with Middle Eastern quaver ("Siki, Siki Baba," "Zen Nube").
Turf War Syndrome
Conscious anti-gangsta talks the walk ("How to Get Ass," "American Nightmare").
Roma guitar-violin-accordion postmodernists whose emotions translate better at higher speeds ("Dvojka," "Obrenovac Boogie").
KONONO NO 1
Your chance to eavesdrop on a genuine African ritual! ("Lufuala Ndonga," "Mama Liza").
New Whirl Odor
"Preachin' to the Quiet," as in, "How you gonna say no to drugs if you don't say no to thugs?" ("MKLVFKWR," "New Whirl Odor").
TOGETHER AGAIN: LEGENDS OF BULGARIAN WEDDING MUSIC
Clarinetist Ivo Papasov of Kardzhali and saxophonist Yuri Yunakov of the Bronx show off their speed, multi-traditional command, and suitability for polite company ("Star Dimo/Mama Radojcho Gulcheske," "Oriental").
THE LITTLE WILLIES
The Little Willies
Norah Jones and pals goof on the country music you'll believe she lovesand take publishing on several dull genre exercises and one funny one ("I Gotta Get Drunk," "Love Me").
Johnny Mercer's recyclable songbook, eccentrically stylized and expertly played ("Blues in the Night," "Lazy Bones").
64-year-old liberal singer-songwriter reveals unanticipated knack for soundscaping ("Beautiful," "Outrageous").
THE DRESDEN DOLLS
Yes, Virginia . . .
Do actually display many cabaret-associated gifts, a light touch not among them ("First Orgasm," "Mrs. O.").
"What I Do," "Security Joan," "Brite Nightgown"
(Morph the Cat, Reprise)
"Ooh La La"
9th Ward Pickin' Parlor
The Road Less Taken