By Dave Herrera
By Jesse Livingston
By Dave Herrera
By Cory Casciato
By Jon Solomon
By Jesse Livingston
By Alejandra Loera
By Stephanie March
Page Hamilton's singing is more prominent on Aftertaste than on previous Helmet barrages, which is not necessarily desirable: It makes the band seem more normal, somehow. But listen long enough and you'll find that the foursome has not mellowed with age. Smart, but not at the expense of intensity.
The Beauty Process: Triple Platinum
The prediction contained within this CD's moniker didn't come true: Its sales were numbered in the thousands, not the millions. But that's hardly the fault of Donita Sparks, Suzi Gardner and Dee Plakas, who sliced through band tension to make their loudest, catchiest long-player yet.
The tag team of Taime Downe and Kyle K come up with a metal/industrial marriage that isn't far removed from the world according to Marilyn Manson. But The Newlydeads has a glam edge that Marilyn has returned to the closet, as well as superior songs. If you need a dose of evil, belly up to the bar.
Music doesn't have to be fast to be heavy. Shipping News, a conglomeration of feedback-loving rebels from the hills of Kentucky, seldom pushes its tempos beyond a lope, but the force of its bass-guitar-drums foundation is felt nonetheless. If you've heard the News, you know there's good rockin' tonight.
Mad Blunted Jazz
Cam takes the DJ Shadow approach, utilizing the tools of hip-hop to create vivid soundscapes that push at the envelope's edge instead of staying comfortably inside it. A live disc from 1995 that's also part of this package is just as convincing, because it underlines the point that hip-hop is as much an attitude as it is a specific type of music. Note: Two other Shadow releases--Choked Up, by Sharpshooters, and Zig Zag Zen, by Le Gooster--come from the same creative place as Mad Blunted Jazz and are almost as strong.
Kool Keith was too crazy to be marketed by the David Geffen machine: He flaked on more high-profile gigs this year than anyone since Sly Stone. But before he flaked out entirely, he completed this sensationally screwy artifact, a rap excursion into sci-fi and scatology that suggests George Clinton in his acid-munching prime.
I Got Next
Hip-hoppers get older faster than participants in virtually any other brand of music. But on I Got Next, KRS-One sounds as fresh and fiery as ever. The album starts indulgently but gains muscle as it goes along as a result of hard-edged production and KRS-One's ability to deliver knowledge in a manner that's always stimulating.
Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliot
Supa Dupa Fly
(The Gold Mind Inc./EastWest)
Elliot, who's a songwriter, producer and arranger as well as a frontwoman, conjures up ultra-commercial rap that doesn't make you feel guilty for savoring it. Supa Dupa Fly has too many cameos (Lil' Kim, Da Brat, Timbaland and Aaliyah are only a few of the guest stars), but Elliot makes her presence felt anyhow. Take that, Puff Daddy.
Easy Listening 4 Armageddon
The joke in the title here is pretty much the only one on the album. Ladd is a very serious fellow whose highly political raps are reminiscent of the dark rumblings once associated with the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. Musically, it's reserved but ominous, which only makes Ladd's lyrical warnings all the more persuasive.
Drums and Tuba
Leave your preconceptions at the door. The combination of Brian Wolff's double B-flat tuba, Neal McKeeby's guitar and Tony Nozero's drums is unexpectedly raw--a fusion of elements that rocks, swings or hollers with equal aplomb. Box Fetish is spare, unstudied and full of ideas that explode in fusillades of blessed racket.
Guitarist Grismore and tenor saxophonist Scea are little known among citizens of the jazz community. However, the dozen songs on which they and the other members of their quintet perform are infinitely more invigorating than the noodlings of many bigger names. The pieces are uncluttered but involving, modest but pleasantly dense.
In the notes that come with Sound Songs, writer John Litweiler describes Mitchell, a veteran of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, as a "naked soloist," and he's not exaggerating: Mitchell makes every squeak and skronk on these two discs. It's a not a stunt, but rather a mammoth accomplishment by a Promethean player.
Murray is too old to be a young lion, but he acts more like one than do many musicians twenty years his junior. Fo Deuk Revue searches for the common ground shared by jazz, worldbeat, rap and rhythm and blues, and more often than not, it finds it. Murray's willingness to explore is only one of the reasons his music continues to matter.
Henry Threadgill & Make a Move
Where's Your Cup?
Every recording saxophonist/flutist Threadgill makes seems to end up on one of my year-end lists, and why not? He is arguably the most consistent, trailblazing, forward-looking artist in jazz today. Backed by an eccentric ensemble that includes electric guitar, accordion and harmonium, Threadgill soars again.
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