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Fast reviews of recent releases

The Four Level, Stars From Aircraft (Breakbeat Science). Veteran drum-and-bass producer Pieter K and singer/songwriter/psychotherapist Amy Jacob team up to produce a pumped-up, chilled-out full-length. K creates darkly dynamic electronic backdrops for Jacob's soulful rock tunes, which range from Dido-esque electro-folk to female-fronted Nine Inch Nails aggression. The duo's mysterious indie electro will keep your black heart thumping. -- Eryc Eyl

Fishbone, Still Stuck in Your Throat (Sound in Color). Although Angelo Moore and Norwood Fisher might be Fishbone's only original members, the pair has recruited some solid talent (including producer David Kahne) to recapture the spirit of the group's '80s recordings. While Throat leans heavily toward the ska tip, there are a few rockers swimming around as well. -- Jon Solomon

The Gang Font, Gang Font feat. Interloper (Thirsty Ear). Outside of guests at Paris Hilton's house, bedfellows don't get much odder than the four Fonts: ex-Hüsker Dü bassist Grant Hart, Bad Plus drummer Dave King, keyboardist Craig Taborn and Happy Apples guitarist/bassist Erik Fratzke. However, their playing on these often intricate, always edgy rock/jazz instrumentals fits together perfectly. This Gang is bangin'. -- Roberts

Darrell Grant, Truth and Reconciliation (Origin). This superb two-disc set mainly showcases fluid pianist Darrell Grant (who grew up in Denver) in a trio setting with bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade. Guitarist Bill Frisell, vibraphonist Joe Locke and saxophonist Steve Wilson add some wonderful touches on non-trio cuts, while Grant shows immense depth in his compositional skills. -- Solomon

Harlem Shakes, Burning Birthdays (Self-released). Slyly slurring together garage-rock slop, shimmering '60s pop and a little dance punk, blog-hog Harlem Shakes' debut EP is a gleeful slab of indie-pop perfection. At only five tracks and just over eighteen minutes, the disc's flawlessness might owe something to its brevity: short and super-sweet. -- Eyl

Billy Joe Shaver, Greatest Hits (Compadre). Don't know if Billy Joe Shaver's to blame for the recent shooting in Texas for which he was arrested. But musically, he's an unreconstructed badass. Throughout Hits, the C&W vet eschews fancy arrangements and assorted sweeteners in favor of rough-hewn singing and old-fashioned twang -- a sound seen as criminal in modern Nashville. Of this last offense, he's guilty as charged. -- Roberts

 
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