Welcome to A&A. There are 13 full reviews in this issue. Click on an artist to jump to the review, or simply scroll through the list. If you want information on any particular release, check out the Label info page. All reviews are written by Jon Worley unless otherwise noted.|
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A&A #277 reviews
Charlie Burton & the Dorothy Lynch Mob
When you're throwing funny lines left and right, it helps to have a solid backing band. After all, every comedian needs a wall to throw things against. Burton's band knows how to play. Combine that with Burton's almost-deadpan delivery, and you've got some seriously funny stuff.
More wry than goofy, Burton sells his songs with sincerity. The musicianship is stellar, and that alone makes this album worth hearing. Burton's sense of humor is dry and broad--think You Are What You Is-era Zappa.
If Zappa played the some version of the country blues, that is. These are easy-going rambles down some alternate-universe urban country back alley. Far too much fun to make the top five on Dr. Demento.
Though I'd guess a few of these pieces would be welcome in those quarters. These aren't novelty parodies, though. Even "Peggy Sue Got Divorced" (which references the original in the rhythm section) is more of a genial continuation of the story. Jokes for the belly and the brain. I like that.
The Return of Dr. Octagon
The Dr. is in. Or, as he is known in the rational universe, Kool Keith. It's been a while since his alter ego graced the audio waves, but damn, you just can't fuck with the Dr. To say it don't get any better than this is to perpetuate a cliche in the interests of supplicating genius.
Or something like that. The beats are, indeed, genius, and the rhymes are funny and shockingly incisive. I haven't heard an album that stripped bullshit to the bone like this in ages. Years. Decades, maybe. Well, decade. Or so.
Laugh out loud funny and immutably booty-moving as well. This might be the perfect party album except that there's often something serious going on underneath the grooves. Uproarious on top, and deadly true at the base. Make that the bass. Whatever.
What did you expect? When Kool Keith puts on the stethoscope, he doesn't mess around. Sublime perfection from start to finish. If this doesn't end up as my favorite album of the year, God will have to create itself and shoot a thunderbolt through my brain.
Hey, who knows. It might happen.
Another Early Evening
Listening to this on the heels of the Dr. Octagon, well, I'm a bit underwhelmed. But only a bit. That's how good Earmint is.
Stellar collage beatwork is the centerpiece here. Folks like Diverse, Murs, Longshot and Psalm One (reviewed in "Also Recommended" in this issue) drop by to add a little flow--good work, too, not just yer usual guest shot crap--but Earmint doesn't let up even when an MC is hanging out.
The sound is more crunchy than smooth. Some of that is the collage technique, but more than that I think Earmint wants to keep an aggressive sound. I like that. Always keep the listener on the defensive.
Not pretty, but quite possibly beautiful. There are sounds here I'd never imagined before. Which is why I listen to music in the first place.
(Record Label Records)
The third producer project in a row in this set of reviews. Guess what overloaded my mailbox this month? And yet, all three are quite different. Brian English is much more of a composer. He does some nice beat work or happily settle into a groove, but electronics are his domain.
Rather, he's out to create entire worlds and tell stories. And each of the 21 pieces here does that. Even the fragments have arcs. I can't tell you how impressive that is.
The sound is marginally on the sterile side. English isn't afraid to go organic, but he seems to prefer a bit of an icy edge. And that doesn't distract from the pleasure of the pieces. Just focuses the mind, you know.
Well done from conception to finish. English is in complete control, and he uses that to make his work utterly compelling. Fall in and let the music move your mind.
Two songwriters and a cast of twenty in the studio. The sound is americana meets...everything else. Lots of rock, a bit of soul and, don't you know, I could be describing Lambchop. Well, I could, except that Great Lakes doesn't sound like them.
No, these folks (Dan Donahue and Ben Crum seem to be the ones in charge, with help from producer Jason Nesmith) aren't particularly idiosyncratic in their writing style. A bit all over the place, but familiar territory at all times. And that's cool. A nice album to roll with on a sunny day.
Indeed, this is one hell of a summer album. The sound is warm and inviting, and the songs pop out in just the right ways. Not by numbers, but rather cool and proficient. Cool as in "don't that sound cool?"
Yeah, it does. A fine trip through many of the sounds we call American music. Not saccharine or cynical, but simply real. Like having a conversation with an old friend. It's easy. And fulfilling. Like waking up in the middle of the night while having sex. And we all know that doesn't suck.