By Scott Thill
Everyone ready to give thanks? Without further
ado here is the music that you should really be thankful for this month.
Lyrics Born, Later That Day
There are undoubtedly some who simply have no idea who this talented man is, and that's OK. After all, DJ Shadow is without a doubt the brightest star in the Solesides/Quannum collective that met up at UC Davis back in the day and made underground music history. But since then, his friends Blackalicious and Latyrx (Lyrics Born and Lateef) have emerged from the, ahem, shadows to claim their fame. And Lyrics Born is no one-trick pony holding the saddle for his compatriots.
He's actually the brains behind the Quannum label, and one hell of a soul singer to boot. "Bad Dreams" is equal parts Sly and the Family Stone and block-rocking beats. "Love Me So Bad" -- a duet with the gorgeous songbird, Joyo Velarde (who is also LB's gal) -- is a street-smart, left-field soul-stirrer. But LB's strength is his MC skills, and they are on significant display here. His team-up with fellow Quannumite Gift of Gab on "Cold Call" is a riotous blast, as is the "U Ass Bank" skit that precedes it. With heavy doses of humor, heart and head-knocking bumps, Later That Day is LB's breakout. Duck if ya hear it.
Break out Ben Gibbard! The guy has been on a serious roll since forming Death Cab For Cutie as a solo project back in 1997, having amassed a ton of indie cred and a devoted fan base along the way. His last project, The Postal Service's Give Up, was a serious laptop pop success, and he has kept the ball rolling with this latest effort, probably Death Cab's best work to date. "New Year" is a cautious rocker that interrogates our annual rite of renewal (and the pain it can bring), while "Expo '86" and "The Sound of Setting" display's Gibbard's pop sensibilities at their sharpest. Meanwhile, the epic, almost eight-minute title track shows off Death Cab's taste for grandeur and complexity. If you want to take a look at an independent-minded virtuoso at the top of his game, Gibbard's Transatlanticism is the place to be.
Guided By Voices, Earthquake Glue
Robert Pollard is one of those matchless musical craftsmen that can't seem to keep his hands off of any idea, no matter how great or suspicious it is. Which is another way of saying that a Guided By Voices album is both a hit-or-miss affair and a cleaning out of the creative closet. That alone is reason to rally around Pollard's flag -- it is only a handful of artists that travel wherever the muse takes them, finished product be damned. To that effect, GBV's latest album is a success, because it is stacked high with tightly wound rockers, smart-ass lyrics, and a focus not found since 1991's Isolation Drills. Pollard and his jammin' rhythm section -- Doug Gillard and Nate Farley on guitars and Tim Tobias and Kevin March covering the rest -- seemed to have kissed the patented GBV lo-fi goodbye, and there's not a teary eye in the house. Because the power and crunch exhibited on Earthquake Glue will probably make most fans -- and GBV latecomers -- happier than the understated Bee Thousand ever did. Don't stop the rock!
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Visit Scott at www.Morphizm.com
© Melt Magazine 2003