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Andrew Bird

Musically gifted as he is, sometimes I wish Andrew Bird would just take it down a notch. He has a tendency to revel in his own cleverness–take “Scythian Empires,” a tune from the brand-new Armchair Apocrypha (Fat Possum). “Their Halliburton attache cases are useless,” he sings, “while Scotchgard Macintoshes shall be carbonized.” Give me a […]

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? & the Mysterians

In January the home ? shared with his manager and his manager’s wife in Clio, Michigan, burned to the ground. Among the casualties were the singer’s cockatoo and five of his seven Yorkies–he’s a professional dog breeder and trainer–as well as decades of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia, including the gold record he and his band […]

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Jesu

Justin Broadrick has long since moved away from the brutalizing industrial grind that made early Godflesh so lovable, but by pointing it out I don’t mean to say that yet another guy who used to tear my face off with his records is now a middle-aged wuss. Some of Godflesh’s signature sounds crop up from […]

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This Moment in Black History

“The Negro’s role in the history of America? A good question,” intones a 1950s-style voice-over in the opening moments of It Takes a Nation of Assholes to Hold Us Back (Cold Sweat), the second full-length from this Cleveland band. “Perhaps we can briefly try to answer this for you.” Then commence the jackhammer beats, strangulated […]

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KURT ELLING

In polls and reviews, readers and critics have converged to name Kurt Elling the most accomplished male jazz vocalist of his generation. So now it comes down to how good he’ll ultimately become–a question only partly answered on the new Nightmoves, due April 3 on Concord. The disc brims with his best pure singing yet: […]

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Costes

The last time French performance artist and musician Jean-Louis Costes came through town, a large, hesitantly curious audience dwindled steadily during his 45-minute noise opera till it was down to a couple dozen iron-stomached folks who could handle the sex, violence, piss, vomit, blood, and feces–it’s not every day you see a guy stick a […]

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Airiel

You already know what these locals sound like, whether you realize it or not. As dedicated conservators of shoegaze rock, they’ve internalized the genre’s defining tropes: the quaking, washed-out guitars; the blisscent vocals; the six-and-a-half-minute songs. Formed in Bloomington in 1997 by guitarist and singer Jeremy Wrenn, in 2003 and 2004 the band released a […]

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Let’s Get Out of This Terrible Sandwich Shop

The members of this local comedy-rock trio get a lot of practice being funny outside their gigs: Tony Mendoza (vocals, drums, Farfisa), Joanna Buese (bass, “kazoogle”), and Thea Lux (vocals, guitar) also perform with troupes like ComedySportz, Annoyance, and Sirens Improv. There are plenty of yuks on their self-titled EP (Roydale): a faux radio ad […]

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(Lone) Wolf & Cub

These former members of the hardcore-inflected La Mantra de Fhiqira and the mathy Dakota/Dakota apparently went feral when they got together. Their debut EP, this year’s May You Only See Sky (Hewhocorrupts Inc.), is rooted in fairly pure, lo-fi, traditional metal, though the joyously aggravating shrieked and squawked vocals are so raw you’d swear the […]

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+/-

The +/- set I caught at CMJ a few weeks ago tore my asshole a new asshole. I was never a big fan of Versus (singer-guitarists James Baluyut and Patrick Ramos’s old group), and I mainly thought earlier +/- albums were mildly clever revisions of Unrest’s eclectic postpop. But the band’s songwriting and chemistry have–and […]

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Allison Moorer

On her new Getting Somewhere (Sugar Hill) Allison Moorer expresses an optimism that was absent on previous albums, where she transformed personal misery into stinging poetry. On songs like “Work to Do” and “Fairweather,” her narrators triumphantly shake off bad relationships–which may or may not say anything about her divorce from Doyle Primm, who cowrote […]

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Gary Burger With the Goblins

Though legendary rock ‘n’ roll flukes have sometimes had a bit more in them (see Silver Apples), it makes sense that the Monks didn’t–being a pissed-off American GI in 1960s Germany is a circumstance that’s hard to sustain or reproduce. So their debut and sole LP, Black Monk Time, remains sui generis, and really, it’s […]

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Alog

These two Norwegians, Dag-Are Haugan and Espen Sommer Eide, make music that on the surface seems like just more glitchy electronica–their latest album, Miniatures (Rune Grammofon, 2005), has its fair share of soothing, skittering synthesizer melodies. But a careful listen reveals a lot more going on underneath; the album’s second half in particular is dominated […]

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Alexis Gideon

Somewhere between wacky and wack you’ll find Alexis Gideon, formerly just Alexis. Better known as half of the local duo Princess, who specialize in a ridiculous collision of fucky hip-hop and skinny-butt dance music, he’s putting out his first solo CD, Welcome Song, early next year on Sickroom, and it’s like a pilled-up, discolored kiddie […]