Sound & Fury 6-15-2006

The Coup Pick a Bigger Weapon Epitaph; April 2006

As hip-hop’s most consistently and consciously political duo – a strong title, given the Public Enemys of the genre – Oakland’s The Coup has been dropping check-yourself-and-your-government bombs since the early ’90s. Pick a Bigger Weapon, its fifth full album in 14 years, is the best one yet, successfully combining lyricist Boots Riley’s storytelling gift, Pam the Funkstress’s masterful mixing, and the grooves of a talented backup band (featuring members of Audioslave and Parliament-Funkadelic) with their always-on-point, down-with-the-man rhetoric. Linking Bush’s oil to Saddam’s genocide, defending theft over retailers’ low wages and Third World buying practices, and reminding why each of us should stand our ground, The Coup is stronger than ever as rap’s radicals – and maybe this time, thanks to thoroughly enjoyable hooks and party-ready beats, more will take note. – Matt Kettmann

Neko Case Fox Confessor Brings the Flood Anti; March 2006

If there is one thing more pleasurable than reviewing a recording that evades categorizing, it is sitting back and listening to one. With song structures that circumvent tradition, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood throws forth a mix of musical overtones that could just as easily stem from rhythm and blues as they do country and western or rock ’n’ roll. Underline this with Case’s eccentric lyrical narrative and her aching yet rich vocal lament and one soon realizes that here is a collection of songs that speaks platitudes. From the shimmering guitars of the hauntingly beautiful title track to the gorgeous lyrical dirge of “Maybe Sparrow,” Case tours us through a musical terrain that radiates from its musical and subjective variables. Here is an album that demands to be listened to. – Brett Leigh Dicks

Hot Buttered Rum Well-Oiled Machine Harmonized

“Hot Diggity!” I say after hearing Hot Buttered Rum’s Well-Oiled Machine. Setting a new standard for the evolved bluegrass genre, the Bay Area quintet has achieved an album of irresistible charm. Basking in a warmth often elusive in the studio, the listener feels cradled within the band’s timeless world. Weaving a web of pristine instrumental excursions with lush vocal harmonies, this machine is well oiled indeed. They ignite things from the get-go with the politically charged swing of “Guns or Butter.” The mythical voyage of “Waterpocket Fold” finds the fellows playing a game of string-laden pinball. While “Sweet Honey Fountain” might as well be an invitation to dive into Hot Buttered’s bubbling well of musical nectar. – Tyler Blue

Editors Back Room Kitchenware Records; April 2006

So, let’s look at some stats about this U.K. band you’ve probably never heard of: It has been nominated for best new band at the NME, recently played SXSW, and hit up Coachella at the tail end of April. Though the majority of the album is fairly fast-paced and up-tempo, the understated “Open Your Arms” is inescapable and possibly the best example of the potential the Editors can reach as far as songwriting is concerned. An excellent debut album, the Editors follow in a long and abrupt line of retro ’80s dance punk, blending elements of both Bloc Party and Interpol. If those bands do it for ya, this album is definitely worth picking up. – Patrick Moore

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