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Vertigo “The Coming and the Going” – A scattered and jumbled attempt at the heavy-handed and female-fronted “dark” rock that bands like Evanescence hit it big with a few years ago; yeah… I wasn’t big on them, either.

The Darbuki Kings “Been Laden You Too Long” – Awesome instrumental gypsy music, much in the same vein as bands like Estradasphere… or Gogol Bordello on valium; a welcome break from the mounds of pop punk I receive daily.

Evil Cowards “Covered in Gas” – The new side project from Electric Six’s Dick Valentine (also known as Tyler Spencer), Evil Cowards may be a stripped-down version of E6 when it comes to the number of band mates (Cowards is just Spencer and longtime friend Will Bates), but it’s not stripped down when it comes to the size of their sound; meaning, if you like E6 you will like EC.

Kristen Cothron “Love Letters from a Fool” – It’s nearly impossible to listen to this album and not hear the influence of Fiona Apple (though an admittedly more jazzy take), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a solid effort from this singer/multi-instrumentalist, but hopefully on her next album the Apple comparison won’t be as obvious.

The Wooden Birds “Magnolia” – A dozen songs of quiet, ballad-like indie-folk from Andrew Kenny (previously of The American Analog Set) that rolls out both softly and smartly; with a muted bass serving as its spine, and well-written lyrics acting as its appendages, “Magnolia” is able to stand on its own as a great body of work from its first track to its last.

Miles Davis “Sketches of Spain” (Legacy Edition) – This rerelease of the third collaboration between Miles and pianist/composer Gil Evans gives fans two discs of the same album; first, the album as it originally appeared upon its release in 1960, and second, with alternate and extra tracks thrown in to show more of the creative process behind the masterpiece. The original album clocked in at just over the 45-minute mark, but the extended version has nearly an extra half-hour of new music, including a full version of the track “Saeta” and a new album-closer in the track “Teo.”

Charles Mingus “Mingus Ah Um” (Legacy Edition) – This is far more than a remastering of Mingus’ 1959 classic; instead, what we have here are two discs that would solidify Mingus’ mark in the annals of jazz music. The first disc, “Ah Um,” gives us the original, but throws in a few bonus tracks and an alternate take of “Bird Calls” for good measure. The second disc continues the alternative takes from “Ah Um,” but then starts directly into “Mingus Dynasty” which the jazz master also released in ’59. Then, at the very end, we’re given the bonus track “Strollin’ (Nostalgia in Times Square)”, which left me sitting on my couch thinking one thing: “Damn… I’m glad they sent this to me to review.”

The Dave Brubeck Quartet “Time Out” (Legacy Edition) – Even if you don’t know who Dave Brubeck is, chances are you know his music. When “Time Out” was first released in 1959 it quickly became a huge hit in the world of jazz, going on to become the first album of the genre to ever sell a million copies. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the album’s release, and Columbia has given Brubeck fans a three-disc set to mark the occasion. The first disc is a remastered version of the album with no bonus tracks or extra material. And that’s absolutely fine, because “Time Out” is still a perfect album from start to finish without any new bells or whistles needed to make it better. The second disc is a mixture of three performances of the Quartet live at Newport in 1961, 1963 and 1964. And the third disc is a DVD that features historic performance footage of the band, a photo gallery, and an interview with the man himself talking about the making of the album. This set is both worthy of the musicians it pays tribute to, and worth it for the fans who pick it up.

Figuring out a different way of doing these reviews,


In the player today:

Disc One: Quincy Jones and Bill Cosby “The Original Jam Sessions 1969” – It’s 1969: Quincy Jones and Bill Cosby get together and create amazing jazz-funk gems for Cosby’s sitcom, “The Bill Cosby Show.” Making guest appearances on the album are some of the genre’s most legendary performers, including Milt Jackson and Jimmy Smith, among others. It’s now 2004: Quincy Jones unearths ten of these songs and collects them into one sweet album. Dad is great! He gives us the chocolate cake!

Disc Two: The Pharcyde “Labcabincalifornia” – The sophomore follow-up to what went on to become one of hip-hop’s most legendary debuts, “Labcabincalifornia” isn’t as brilliant or groundbreaking as its predecessor, but it’s still a damn fine record. Listening to it now kind of bums me out because it was the last thing Pharcyde created before fame and fortune came between friends. Of course, they’re “reunited” now, so maybe a third album is in their future. But even if they do produce another one, the dynamic won’t be the same as it was back in the early nineties.

Disc Three: The Black Keys “Thickfreakness” – One of my favorite bands ever. If you know them, you love them. If you don’t know them, you should. Two scraggly-ass white boys from Nowhere, Ohio who, armed only with a drum kit and a guitar, make more noise than a jumbo jet crashing into a freight train. Bearded jumbo jets and trains!

Disc Four: Chromeo “Fancy Footwork” – The Eighties! Trapper Keepers! Scratch ‘n’ Sniff stickers! Jelly shoes! Reagan! Charm bracelets! “Don’t Worry, Be Happy!” Chromeo!

Disc Five: Electric Six “Fire” – I loved this album when it first came out, but haven’t listened to it in a really long time. And you know what? It completely holds up. I feared the shtick of Electric Six might not be as entertaining years later (i.e. Tenacious D, Adam Sandler albums, having sex with me, etc.), but the music is still solid and the lyrics are still funny. I mean, how can one hear a song titled “Naked Pictures (Of Your Mother)” and not laugh?

What are you knobs listening to these days?



Old Poop!