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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

…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

Old Poop!