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And that's fine. Not many--other males might mock them! Simz is clearly tough--has to be. But she's also clearly kind, and that's even tougher. A- Little Simz : Stillness in Wonderland Age , Representing for her smart, up-and-coming, insecure self with a loose "concept" meant to spark conscious rap in the U. Smog Veil, Seventy this month, the Tin Huey catalyst, Waitresses mastermind, and dB's bassist establishes his right to begin "Never Been Old Before" with an excitable "If you say you're bored then you're not paying attention.

One is that every one of these nine calm tracks has its attractions--"Inferno" bemoaning a Brisbane summer so brutal it could signal the end of the world, "No Fame" honoring an artist who'll never enjoy the renown he deserves yet keeps imparting form to his stories anyway, "I'm Gonna Tell It" for some reason exploring a very similar theme. The other is that a year from now, with another brutal antipodal summer behind the planet we hope, you're more likely to choose Forster's The Evangelist or the Go-Betweens' Oceans Apart when craving a taste of this particular artist who's not as famous as he deserves to be.

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So I bought the budget-priced double CD, and though it was a while before I felt like sticking disc one in the changer, just a few minutes passed before I added disc two and listened through yet again. Never big on extended spoken-word material or solo-acoustic remakes of exalted songbooks, I'm impressed.

Glimpses into the nineteenth century broadside ballad trade

The Springsteen this most recalls isn't like any earlier album but the autobiography he called Born to Run for better reasons than you might imagine. Like that fast-reading pager, its aim is to simultaneously depict and demythologize the Jersey shore and poke major holes in an authenticity it reconceives at a truer level of complexity--on his first cross-country car trip, the guy who would soon write "Racing in the Street" had to learn to drive from scratch when the guy who was supposed to ride shotgun disappeared in Tennessee.

Like the book, this ends where it begins--at the huge old copper beech tree that anchored his childhood, except that since he last visited the county has cut it to the street. Springsteen being Springsteen, he swears "some essential piece of it was still there"--and being Springsteen, convinces you that that's his truth even if it isn't your kind of thing.

Don Giovanni, "Featuring Shelley Hirsch," a free-improvising singer who puts the stamp of the semi-official avant-garde on some of Stampfel's woolliest notions. But not counting the anthemic "F the NRA" right, they don't actually say "F" , the lyrics--to the disinherited "5 Farms," the disconnected "Bimbo,"' the homophilic "Hey Buddy," the junkiephobic "Stranger Danger," the lithium-enabled "Lithium"--don't clear up until you consult a cheat sheet. This doesn't matter much for three reasons: because they have the gift of catchy, because we always feel they're on our side, and because splitting the vocal leads between stentorian baritone drummer Stephanie Luke and squeaky soprano guitarist Julia Kugel-Montoya imparts a dynamic range and novelty value matched by no other punk band, grrrl or otherwise.

This development suits a band who've always sounded like they took music lessons in high school and read too much theory in college a band who've never aimed for rousing or catchy much less simple. Bracing, usually; enjoyable, they're trying; angry, that's bedrock. What enrages them isn't just the unprecedented political morass now depressing if not immobilizing their target audience.

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It's bigger than that--objectification in all its guises, the futility of good intentions, the half measures passed off as progress, men who think they know what's best for them, men who think they know what's best for the world. Their music truly rocks, which is one thing they're going for and good for them. It's more absorbing than on their minimalist debut, too--thicker. But it does tend to fold in on itself--to lead nowhere. A- Epic Beard Men : Season 1 Strange Famous, So much more interesting when they scorn the rich and let their scene's hustlers pursue their pathetic scams and dreams away from the spotlight.

Dolan, 38, do their bit for class consciousness by rhyming about their work life.

English folk music

All their stories are grotty. But "Circle the Wagons," with its stashed body, jailhouse locale, and litany of "What did you do? And transgressively raw though these beardos are, they're also comedians: try "Shin Splints," about racing to make a flight, or "Pistol Dave," about a dirtbag who couldn't even hack the low-level job they had the heart to give him? And then there's "Hedges," where an ex-GI moves in next to a schlubby liberal and they're both paranoid because why shouldn't they be? So of course there are diversions on this album.

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Yet it feels like it's all about G-U-N-S guns even when it isn't, as in "Mind Ya Bidness," which packs nothing but blunts, and the lead "Spray and Pray," which undercuts its "We load up, lift, and shoot" refrain with a "turn in they AKs for Ks" dissent. Ostensibly it's multiracial, too--where the action in both those tracks is located in black America, "Sunday Mass" names Nikolas C. But with that established he feels free to leave the amplifiers in Bamako, return to his home village, and record his most purely listenable album.

Miri's lyrics seek love and honor tradition as usual. But "miri" means dream, a dream that on a title track fraught with political anxiety is lovely and arresting--pensive, nostalgic, designed to allay disquiet as thoughtful music can. The warmth of his wife Amy Sacko's vocals makes such weathered guests as Habib Koite and Afel Bocoum sound like they're trying too hard. Only on the final track does she power up. It's about Bassekou's mother.


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As sheer output, this speaks well of a mbalax tycoon and sometime pol who'll turn 60 in October. But the international product isn't up to Nonesuch standards--too eager to please for such a titan. This one, on the French indie that just backed Salif Keita's first album in nine years, is shrewder. It's a ballad album--there are tama drums, sure, but none of the hectic clatter that's riled up long-legged male Senegalese dancers everywhere I've seen N'Dour except Carnegie Hall.

N'Dour's voice is barely diminished, a slight burr detectable here and there. But he has the grace to share leads on four of 10 tracks: two sampled from long-gone, rough-voiced Afro-crossover pioneer Babatunde Olatungi, another by Swedish-Nigerian youngblood Mohombi, and best in show Swedish-Gambian Seinabo Sey's transformation of N'Dour's historical "Birima" into a contemporary pride song of her own. Nor is that the only N'Dour standard reimagined here.

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The man has world tour to crush. He's got his head up and he's not screwing around. Cheesy synths, honeyed strings, vocals that wailed or ululated more than shouted or crooned--it was all too much. But gradually I came to hear what the extensive notes on this handsomely packaged, moderately priced double-CD gave me a grip on: a fleeting '70s golden era that uplifted a Khartoum postcolonial elite under the thumb of Nasserite music lover Gafaar Muhammad Nimeiry. This was relatively genteel stuff, its steady rhythms devoid of Ali Hassan Kuban Nubian drive.

Problem was, Nimeiry was a politician first like all strongmen, the arty ones included, and as Islamism took root in northern Africa he turned due right. His Sharia-based September Laws of banned songs about women in a nation where incinerating heaps of cassettes became street entertainment, and in a military coup sent even Wardi into exile, where a year later he found himself offering a few hours of pleasure to , asylum-seeking refugees in Ethiopia. Post , when he turned 75, Wikipedia lists 13 albums while omitting more titles than I'm mad enough to compare-and-contrast from Spotify's offerings; upsetter.

But if you care about the greatest of the dubmasters, this project, overseen for the year-old by great white dubmaster Adrian Sherwood, is an album that holds together. Definitely the "Autobiography of the Upsetter" finale, possibly the "Cricket on the Moon" opener, but in the end it doesn't matter, because all nine tracks achieve both solidity and differentiation--sound good without sounding too much like any of the others. Take a wild guess and thank Sherwood, whose African Head Charge release Drastic Season has won my ears and heart as I've done my due diligence.

I'll never know where this album stands or sprawls in Perry's oeuvre, But I do know that it will now replace 's Panic in Babylon as my go-to Upsetter. Here she goes electro-experimental and expands the music exponentially, so that it coheres sonically even though every track is different--here charming and there disruptive, here droney and there catchy or maybe both, like the dubwise "Addis". The atmospheric "Beliefs" repeats the mantra "Remove your beliefs and start again" seven times in as if shaken to the core by whoever inspired the second mantra "Holy Cow I Never Saw a Girl Like Her.

No hip-hop, no Nirvana covers, not even any male-sounding shamanistic croaks--the closest analogy is Fluxus-period Yoko Ono with the disruptive techniques referencing content more concrete, organic, and political than shock for education's sake or existential despair.


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We can hear this because we know how urgently Tagaq cares about both global warming and indigenous peoples. For half an hour she emits dozens of nonverbal sounds well beyond croons and screams--squeaks, belches, agonized gutturals, many more.


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  • This is music that mourns the end of the world. She wants it to disturb us, and it should. A- Big Thief : U. Notions and emotions so fleeting they're gone before you can pin them down embody and then vanquish uncertainty before it can settle into the depression that may well lurk below. Each quiet, tiny-voiced tune emerges like a crocus pushing through the snow, and how much you enjoy as opposed to admire it will depend on how moving you find minor miracles.

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    Not terribly fragile myself, I identify most readily with the subtle blatancies that sometimes surface--the quiet boom of the lead-in to "Jenni," or "Cattails" with its noticeable beat and subtle guitar hook sounding almost martial in this sonic context. But I'm definitely touched by the whole. A- Martin Frawley : Undone at 31 Merge, Like many former twerps, former Twerp Frawley understands love's pains, pleasures, and epiphanies so much better than the horndogs who get laid all the time they tell us "You Want Me?

    Maybe this is because at 35 he actually does, just not the "Ivy League" ones of legend. More likely, however, the problem is sheer befuddlement at how complex this class stuff can be. So recognize that his rich-and-famous has little resemblance to the old-money kind. It's Hollywood rich-and-famous, and far from its upper reaches, although Quincy Jones is eight-month-old Isaiah Jones Koenig's granddad.