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

Neko Case Fox Confessor Brings the
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

Hot Buttered Rum Well-Oiled Machine

“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

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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