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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

Old Poop!