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Yuzo Nieto & the Hand That Rocks the Dreidel

Superficially, this album is an exercise in dusky jazz, electro-pop, world music and whatever it is Randy Newman did in the late '70s. In spite of the various stylistic shifts, it's unified by Nieto's soulful vocal delivery as well as by a sense of linguistic and musical play. The opening track, "Asshole," is a self-critical song that could have appeared on a latter-day Yo La Tengo release, and "13th B'ak'tun," a reference to the imminent Mayan end of days, wouldn't have been out of place in the new-wave '80s. With help from Avi and Danny of Josephine and the Mousepeople, Yuzo Nieto's album is a sonically rich affair with more than its fair share of smart humor and musical invention.


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