Sound Bites

Sound Bites is a fresh new addition to Playlist in which we cut straight to the quip. Although I cooked up the initial batch, starting next week a rotating cast of your favorite Backbeat scribes will dish out a half-dozen bite-sized rewviews for you to sink your teeth into. Enjoy. -- Dave Herrera

Matisyahu, Live at Stubb's (Or Music/ JDub). Sublime fans, rejoice: Brad Nowell has apparently been reincarnated as a Hasidic Jew in upstate New York. What else could account for this pasty kid's inexplicable ability to deliver such authentic-sounding reggae? Recorded during SXSW 2005, Live at Stubb's captures the soulfulness that Shake Off the Dust...Arise, Matisyahu's underwhelming debut, managed to suppress.

Alanis Morissette, Jagged Little Pill Acoustic, (Maverick). Morissette's magnum opus is every bit as bitter as it was a decade ago. Stripped of all its overwrought vitriol, however, this new prescription is hard to swallow for other reasons: Morissette has obviously moved into the Desperate Housewives demo and softened her Jagged edges accordingly. (By the way, "Ironic" still isn't, in case you're wondering.)

Fall Out Boy, From Under the Cork Tree (Island). "Brothers and sisters, put this record downŠIt's not worth the hearing you'll lose...We're only good for the latest trend..." Fuckin' A -- I couldn't have described these Hot Topic clones any better myself. And thanks to the pre-emptive lyrics of opening track "Our Lawyer Made Us Change the Name of This Song So We Wouldn't Get Sued," I don't have to.

Diamond Nights, Once We Were Diamonds (Kemado). Once We Were Aldo Nova is more like it. You knew it had to happen sooner or later: Since the bulk of the Œ80s catalogue has already been cannibalized, all that's left to appropriate is the galloping power-chord progressions and histrionic falsetto of the Reagan era's corporate rock-bottom feeders -- which lost its luster long ago.

DJ Shadow, Endtroducing...(Island). Do you really need another copy of DJ Shadow's ground-breaking 1996 debut? Hell, yeah, you do -- if only to finally get your hands on the rare single version of "Stem" (Cops 'N' Robbers mix). But on this deluxe edition, there's also a slew of alternate takes and demos that every discriminating Shadow fan should possess.

Esthero, Wikked Lil Grrrls (Reprise). Sade better watch her back: Esthero is staging a hostile takeover of the former's trademarked between-the-sheets grooves. When she's on, this golden-throated songstress is as hot as a menage a trois between Pink, Nelly Furtado and Dido. Unfortunately, when she's not, she's about as arousing as Basia.

 
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