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
J/All I Do
Cynics will dis Kanye's buddy as this year's socially responsible faux mainstreamer even though anybody who rhymes "I'm down like syndrome" and "I should be lynched I'm so high-strung" isn't guarding his p.c. ratings. Word-slinging about day-to-day struggle and bullets gone astray, he either knows whereof he speaks or hires good researchers, and his beats lively his facts just rightonly things that sound faux are the street tracks in the middle, one posse and two sex. Kanye bumps up two songs. But the decisive guests are Chris Rock preaching to the heathens and ODB partying from the grave. A MINUS
DUD OF THE MONTH
Never let it be said that the youth of America can't recognize quality. These guys are spectacularly expertwith their dybbuk-or-angel vocal switchoffs, compulsive tempo shifts, dramatic dynamics, and multiple melodic and rhythmic elements, they're as exhausting to listen to as Stan Kenton, and with almost as much insight into the human heart. They predicate their worldview on their inability to win the love of Lara Croft, who led them on in a summer romance they now realize was an amoral farrago of lies and deception. So they consign her to many different hells, from ordinary suicide to my favorite: "Watch the stars turn you to nothing." And she thought she was so great. C PLUS
Additional Consumer News
Dirty Pretty Things
Waterloo to Anywhere (Interscope)
Carving out a punk alternative after the collapse of Albion's dream ("The Gentry Cove," "If You Love a Woman").
'Sno Angel Like You (Thrill Jockey)
Finally the influence reverses, providing Uncle Neil the chorus idea for his own 2006 album, only this one's about love in the desert or something ("Get to Leave," "That's How Things Get Done").
Hundreds of young bands still make their generic stabs at short-fast-catchy, and every so often a good one gets lost in the crowd, on a major especially ("Never Gonna Die," "Astoria").
Katamanto Highlife Orchestra
(Katamanto Music/the Orchard)
Cheerful Africans and cooperative Danes re-create charming old Ghanaian style ("Mahunumu," "KK").
Rolling out licks, turns of phrase, satire, and persuasion, country cat tries to create a country he can be proud of ("I Lie," "Act Like Nothing's Wrong").
Towers of London
Blood Sweat & Towers (TVT)
If you still don't think the world is going to hell, remember that once Slade defined bombed-out desperation ("I'm a Rat," "Start Believing").
Never Slow Down, Never Grow Old (Rounder)
Right, the Boston sportswriter, who enlists Theo Epstein on a Clash cover and seven actual Red Sox on "Wake Me, Shake Me" ("NyQuil Blues," "Model Citizen").
Broken Toy Soldiers (Third Man/V2)
Jack helps Brendan with his problems, remains stuck on his own ("Steady as She Goes," "Intimate Secretary").
That Was Me 19941998 (Hip-O)
The country-rock highlights will sound brighter live and acoustic, but other moments shine loud enough ("Late Last Night," "Margaritaville").
Sigil (World Music Network)
Dakar-born neotraditionalist links to Morocco for the discriminating world muso ("Talibe," "Niane").
Band of Horses
Everything All the Time (Sub Pop)
Echoed melisma and felt folk-rock drones for Generation Sad ("First Song," "Weed Party").
Strong Arm (buck65.com)
Richard Terfry gives his fans a mixtape ("Track One," "Track Two").
Neko Case "Margaret vs. Pauline," "Star Witness"
Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Anti-)
Mamany Kouyat "Fatou Nana"
From Dakar to Johannesburg (Playasound)
T.I. "What You Know"
King (Grand Hustle/Atlantic)
Dave Alvin "Don't Look Now"
West of the West (Yep Roc)
The John Doe Thing "Bad, Bad Feeling"
For the Best of Us (Yep Roc)
Soul Asylum "Fearless Leader"
The Silver Lining (Columbia/Legacy)
Brendan Benson The Alternative to Love
CocoRosie Noah's Ark
(Touch and Go)
Liars Drum's Not Dead