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Fast reviews of recent releases

Dntel, Dumb Luck (Sub Pop). Postal Service alum Jimmy Tamborello, joined by a gaggle of indie all-stars, daubs simple melodies with electronic smears and other studio-derived tomfoolery. The results can be either audacious or irritating -- and at times during the title track, both descriptors apply. In the end, though, Tamborello succeeds more often than he stumbles. No wonder he believes in Dumb Luck. -- Roberts

Joseph Jarman, As If It Were the Seasons (Delmark). This spruced-up reissue sounds every bit as radical as it must have in 1968, when it first appeared. Joined by a crew of fearless avant-gardists, reed expert Jarman, best known for his work with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, essentially abandons structure in favor of the free interplay between silence and cacophony, harmony and atonality. Challenging, perplexing, thrilling. -- Roberts

Machine Head, The Blackening (Roadrunner Records). Continuing in the vein of its 2003 comeback, Machine Head uncorks a serious forty-ounce of whup-ass. Four of the eight tracks on this album clock in at over nine minutes, but there's no prog wankery or wasted time. Balancing melodic and structural sense with straightahead brutality, this Machine kills fascists -- and everything else in its path. -- Eryc Eyl

Megadeth, United Abominations (Roadrunner). Dave Mustaine has never been one to mince words. And now, after getting sober and finding God, the quick-tempered frontman seems to have become even more opinionated as he climbs aboard his pulpit and lambasts the United Nations, showing more political forethought than the majority of today's politicians. -- Brandon Daviet

The Tiny, Starring Someone Like You (Eyeball Records). Strange-but-sexy vocalist Ellekari Larsson and sexy-but-strange cellist and saw player Leo Svensson craft Grimm fairy tales of desire and disappointment that can be beautiful and/or aggravatingly unlistenable. Larsson's emotional, intellectual and vocal range make Kate Bush and Tori Amos comparisons unavoidable, but this sophomore effort stands on its own merits with raw urgency and sincerity. -- Eyl

Chris Whitley and Jeff Lang, Dislocation Blues (Rounder Records). Blues finds the late Chris Whitley paired with skilled Aussie and kindred musical soul Jeff Lang. The two ramblers do serious justice to the folk classic "Stagger Lee" and impressively reinvent Dylan's "When I Paint My Masterpiece." These plus their own offerings make you wonder why Whitley was never truly embraced by the masses. -- Nick Hutchinson

 
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