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So here’s the deal: I have a little more than 70 CDs to review. So I’m going to do a few batches of these short, one-sentence reviews to get caught up.

Sound good? Awesome!

Let’s go!

Sleeper “Behind Every Mask” – A nice attempt at making a minimal electronic album from little more than blips and bleeps, but it often relies too heavily on being more noise than it is music.

Various Artists “Luaka Bop: 21st Century, 21st Year” – Luaka Bop offers up this fantastic compilation (celebrating their 21st year in existence) featuring 14 of the label’s superstars including Jorge Ben, Shuggie Otis, Susana Baca and Mr. Luaka Bop himself, David Byrne.

Cheer-Accident “Fear Draws Misfortune” – A haphazard and scattered mix of experimental avant-prog-rock that falls somewhere between a watered-down Zappa album and a creepy off-off-off-Broadway musical.

Dazy Head Mazy “Mercury Said 65” – If you ever attended H.O.R.D.E. Fest or own any CD from Blues Traveler, Barenaked Ladies or Hootie and the Blowfish you’re gonna have a huge boner for Dazy Head Mazy… and I’ll let you decide whether or not that’s a good thing.

Say Hi “Oohs & Aahs” – The project of solo singer/songwriter Eric Elbogen, Say Hi’s first label debut is an inspired disc of fable-like storytelling laid over subtle sounds and strumming.

Willie Nelson “Naked Willie” – Only Willie Nelson has the power to take 17 of his vintage RCA tracks (originally released from 1966 to 1970) and strip them down to the bare singer/guitar essentials… and thank Christ, because the result is Willie sounding exactly the way he had intended to be heard: on top of his game and naked as hell.

The Prodigy “Invaders Must Die” – Liam Howlett and Co. return with the familiar heavy bass and harsh beats that made their 1997 album “The Fat of the Land” a dance floor favorite, giving us a new Prodigy album that is laced with vintage Prodigy sound.

Dengue Fever “Sleepwalking Through the Mekong” – An ABSOLUTELY AMAZING CD/DVD soundtrack/documentary collection. The documentary follows Dengue Fever lead singer Chhom Nimol as she returns to her native Cambodia to tour during the 2005 Water Festival. The accompanying soundtrack features classic tracks from Cambodian musicians like Sinn Sisamouth and Meas Samoun. And yes, I’m aware this review breaks the one-sentence rule, but it’s one of the best things I’ve been sent to review in awhile and therefore deserves the love.

ApSci “Best Crisis Ever” – A fantastic follow-up to 2005’s “Thanks For Asking,” this husband/wife duo returns and continues to push the boundaries of experimental hip-hop, delivering familiar ApSci beats in a mixture of the fresh and new; a shining star in Quannum’s already bright sky.

Iggy Pop “Preliminaries” – The most bold, beautiful and bizarre Iggy Pop album to date, featuring The Stooge himself crooning in a Leonard Cohen-esque fashion (but in French), singing love ballads and trying his hand at… jazz?

J. Todd “Ryzzynynce” – An electronic instrumental bit of brilliance from Milwaukee’s own J. Todd, with sexy-smooth synthesized sounds and sweet samples, “Ryzzynynce” is the perfect album to have playing on loop throughout the day as you bust your ass to get shit done… like writing a thousand CD reviews.

Bibio “Ovals & Emeralds EP” – A new six-song EP from Bibio (who I covered not too long ago), a one-man band whose scratchy, old-timey instrumentals transform your CD player into a phonograph.

Beck “One Foot In The Grave” (Remastered) – This remastered version of Beck’s 1994 release gives fans an album that is now nearly twice its original size, with all of its previous tracks as well as a ton of new b-sides… and now it’s all cleaned up and pretty sounding!

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds “Your Funeral… My Trial” (Remastered), “The First Born Is Dead” (Remastered), “From Her To Eternity” (Remastered), “Kicking Against The Pricks” (Remastered) – Nick Cave’s entire back catalog is getting a major reworking with remastered versions done up in 5.1 surround sound. These mark the first four in a set, and if they’re anything like what’s coming it’s going to be a very nice collection to own. Each disc is now a double-disc set, with one containing the remastered album and the other containing the disc in 5.1 sound. Also included on each disc are b-sides and singles. Sure, if you’re a huge Nick Cave fan, chances are you already own all of this music. But you don’t own it like this.

More coming… goddammit.

-Shady

You’re not going to believe this, but I got ten CDs sent to me for review and I love them all! If you know me, you know this is a pretty rare occurrence.

I also have a HUGE stack of music to review after this batch, so I’m going to try and keep these as short as humanly possible. Because, you know, I sometimes have a tendency to go on and on.

Like this one time, when I–

Just kidding. Let’s go!

Tone-Loc “Loc-ed After Dark: 20th Anniversary Edition” – Tone-Loc is back?!? Get the Loc out of here! Okay, so he’s not really back. They’ve just gone ahead and released a remastered version of his rap classic that is now… twenty years old? THIS ALBUM IS TWENTY FUCKING YEARS OLD?!? Oh my God… that makes me… OLD! Yeah, the album is both cheesy and camp-tastic, but that’s what makes it great. Oddly enough, Young MC (of “Bust A Move” fame) wrote most of Loc’s most popular hits, including “Funky Cold Medina” and “Wild Thing.” The entire original album is here, along with a few remixes and B-sides thrown in for good measure. You won’t be able to find this in stores or on Amazon (it’s a digital-only release), but download this oldie-but-a-goodie and relive all of those awkward middle school dances.

Dude, I’m doing a shitty job of keeping these short.

N.A.S.A. “The Spirit of Apollo” – Every once in a great while, an album comes along that nearly everyone can connect with. In the past, bands like Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz and OutKast released albums that did just that. And now, mark my words: Three months from today, everyone is going to be listening to “The Spirit of Apollo.” They’re gonna be playing it on TV commercials; it will be put into heavy rotation during sporting event halftimes; even your grandma will be spinning it (in the background, as she gets nailed by your grandfather). The brainchild of Squeak E. Clean (Sam Spiegel, also known as the younger brother of director Spike Jonze) and DJ Zegon (Ze Gonzales), this dynamic duo somehow managed to record an album that features every musician ever known to man. No, seriously. Their debut features guest appearances from: Chuck D, Chali 2na, Gift of Gab, Z-Trip, David Byrne, DJ Swamp, Method Man, John Frusciante, RZA, KRS-One, Fatlip, Slim Kid Tre, Karen O, Tom Waits, Kool Keith, Kanye West, Santogold, George Clinton, Lovefoxxx, Spank Rock, M.I.A., DJ Qbert, DJ AM, Del tha Funkee Homosapien and Ghostface Killah. And guess what?!? I DIDN’T EVEN NAME EVERY GUEST ON THE ALBUM! Even though I love all of the albums I’m reviewing here today, this one should be at the top of your purchase list.

These reviews are ridiculously long. For realsies.

Animal Collective “Merriweather Post Pavilion” – I first got into Animal Collective when they released the four-song single “Prospect Hummer” back in 2005. I think Animal Collective is similar to bands like Yo La Tengo in that people either love them deeply or forget them immediately. I’m more the former, though this album did hit a few cold spots along the way. I prefer my Animal Collective a little more experimental and out there, but at times “Merriweather Post Pavilion” felt almost too rehearsed. Still, I’d say about 80% of the disc is solid, and that’s more than you’re gonna get from most bands out there today.

Pete Doherty “Grace/Wastelands” – Pete Doherty is one sad motherfucker, and “Grace/Wastelands” sounds like his suicide note to the world. I never got into The Libertines, of which Doherty was a member of, but this disc is a far cry from the punk-driven sound of his musical alma mater. Instead of standard “fuck the man” punk anthems, we’re given stripped-down singer/songwriter gems that leave us feeling like total and utter shit. So the next time it’s gray outside and you want to cry, put this disc on! Just be sure to hide your knives first.

The Five Corners Quintet “Hot Corner” – The Five Corners Quintet is a Helsinki-based jazz five-piece. Read that again: They play jazz! In Finland! And somehow, though I’m not exactly sure how, they manage to capture all of the nuances of early American jazz and then twist it and mash it into becoming its own thing. It’s as if the old innocent standards were slipped a mickey and then quickly bent over by an abusive and demanding postmodern jazz. Does that make any sense? Because it does to me, and I heard the disc. I think you’ll just have to pick it up to see if I’m spot-on or just silly drunk. (But keep in mind that I could be both.)

Bibio “Vignetting the Compost” – I love this disc. Unfortunately, it’s so different from anything else out there that I’m having a hard time explaining what it sounds like. Still, let me try: Bibio creates old-timey, scratch- and hiss-filled tunes that blend the simple sounds of yesterday with the technical studio know-how of today. It’s like if you were to find an old pair of those huge headphones from the early seventies, and then put them on and only hear sounds from the turn of the century. That is Bibio. How could it get more impressive? Like this: Bibio is one man, a fellow named Stephen James Wilkinson. And this is his third full-length release. Looks like I’ve got some CD-bin digging to do at Amoeba.

Q-Tip “The Renaissance” – This came out awhile ago, but I want to point out how good of an album it is. The Abstract is back, and in classic Tribe fashion. I know he lost a few listeners with his “harder” and more pop-driven solo release “Amplified” back in 1999, but “The Renaissance” returns to the roots of what made Q-Tip the member of A Tribe Called Quest. From the first beat to the last break, Q dishes out new rhymes with an old sound that are sure to become instant classics. Be sure to pay close attention to “We Fight/We Love” (featuring guest vocalist Raphael Saadiq), and “Life Is Better” (with guest Norah Jones).

Various Artists “Let Freedom Sing: The Music of the Civil Rights Movement” – I’ve been reviewing CDs for ten years now (Christ!), and over the years I’ve become a fan of many of the compilations that Time Life has released. This three-disc set is no exception. “Let Freedom Sing” collects nearly 60 songs that were created for or inspired by the history of the Civil Rights Movement. From Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit” in 1939 to Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” in 1971, this set documents the decades-long journey of African-Americans as they transform their hopes and fears into beats and lyrics. Sure, I own most of these songs already on other discs, but the strength of the set isn’t one or two individual songs. Instead, its strength lies in its numbers and the story it tells. It also features a set introduction by Chuck D, and comes in a nice book-like case. A nice addition to one’s already-respectable music collection. And by “one’s” I mean “my.”

-Shady

…right here:

Doug Andrews “Absaraka Runoff” – This tongue-twister title is singer/songwriter Doug Andrews’ first. Recorded in a small cabin at the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains in Wyoming, Andrews carved out this minimal guy-and-guitar eight-track disc entirely on his own. The result is reminiscent of a stripped-down James Taylor. This genre isn’t my usual musical fare, but the quality that Andrews puts forth is undeniable.

Nickel Eye “The Time of the Assassins” – This isn’t Nickelback, Nickel Creek or the Plugged Nickel (that’s for all you Columbus kids). This is Nickel Eye, as in the solo project of The Strokes’ bassist Nikolai Fraiture. Get it? Nikolai? Nickel Eye? Heh… yeah. Anyway, “The Time of the Assassins” is a departure from The Strokes’ sound, but I’m still not overly excited by what it offers. The album’s shining moments come in the form of its musical guests, with appearances from Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner on “Dying Star,” and piano key pounder Regina Spektor on “Where the Cold Wind Blows.”

Pronto “All is Golden” – The recipe for Pronto is nothing short of intriguing: Wilco pianist/keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen fronts the band, and is joined by percussionist pal Greg O’Keeffe. Over time, the duo welcomed numerous friends into the studio including Matt Lux (Iron & Wine), Jim Becker (Califone) and Erik Paparazzi (Cat Power), among others. All this talent pools together to form thirteen tracks of piano-fronted pop that I can’t help but tap my foot to. Not all of it is my speed; some of it crosses the Ben Folds line a little too much for my tastes. (Sorry, Kevin and Laura!) Still, Pronto manages to become its own thing, which is more than I can say for most bands out there.

The BPA “I Think We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat” – A while ago, maybe even three or four months back, I saw this beautiful and brilliant video to The BPA’s David Byrne-fronted single “Toe Jam.”

Okay, seriously… let’s watch that again. And this time, keep an eye out for the cameo of Fatboy Slim himself as he swings his huge, monstrous wiener around.

Whew… anyway, that video quickly became one of my favorites (for obvious reasons), so when I got the CD in the mail the other day I was excited. The BPA stands for the Brighton Port Authority, and is essentially Norman Cook (Fatboy) and Simon Thornton, with a whole slew of musical guests. The twelve-track disc has some absolute gems (“He’s Frank (Slight Return)” with guest vocalist Iggy Pop; “Dirty Sheets” featuring Pete York; and “Spade” featuring Martha Wainwright) and some complete misses (“Superman,” which is fronted by Thornton himself, and “Superlover” featuring Cagedbaby). Of course, “Toe Jam” is great, but there is one huge mystery surrounding this album: Lateef the Truthspeaker is listed on both the CD and BPA’s website as being a musical guest, yet he doesn’t appear on one song on the album. Did I miss something? Is there a hidden track I can’t find, or did I get an incomplete version? Where is Lateef? I want answers!!! Still, it’s pretty good. Oh, and a special sidenote: The BPA has created a pretty great backstory for itself, saying that all of this music was actually recorded in the mid-seventies by Cook and Thornton, and only recently found in a box during a renovation of the dockside warehouse where The BPA’s recording studios once existed. It kind of reminded me of the story of Marvin Pontiac. It doesn’t add or take away from the music itself, but it definitely makes the story more fun.

Hot Chip “Made in the Dark EP”Hot Chip hands over four tracks from last year’s “Made in the Dark” full-length to jazz-rock pioneer Robert Wyatt and Geese (Emma and Vince from The Elysian Quartet) to create this four-song EP. Wyatt brings a soft hand to the mix, adding minimal lyrics and instrumentation to the already-airy tracks “Made in the Dark,” “Whistle for Will” and “We’re Looking For a Lot of Love.” But the more dance-friendly track “One Pure Thought” gets a complete makeover, giving listeners something more reminiscent of Air than Hot Chip. If you’re a Hot Chip fan, you’ll like these new takes on last year’s hits.

In between my toes,

-Shady

to make sure it’s real.

Thanks for passing it along, Steve!

-Shady

Old Poop!