Sound & Fury 2-1-2007

Hybrid I Choose Noise
Distinct’ive Records; September 2006

Standing out in a genre that seems to be taking more steps
backward than forward, British electronic duo Hybrid have been a
breath of fresh air since their 2003 sophomore release Morning
. The Brits have tweaked some serious knobs on this one,
churning out remarkably human melodies and percussions from some
ice-cold circuitry. With vocals in progressive trance so often
sounding tacked on at the last minute, Hybrid’s ability to work
their tracks around their singers is a deadly weapon. Combined with
some showcasing of their symphonic talents on tracks like “Just for
Today,” I Choose Noise is by far one of the best
electronic releases of the year.   — Levi Michaels

Richard Cheese Silent
Surfdog Records; September 2006

For those who have never experienced Richard Cheese and his band
Lounge Against the Machine, this holiday-themed CD may not be the
most opportune starting point. It’s thick with the cheese that
makes Cheese the best mock-rocker on the planet, but it has too
many Christmas tunes to be played in the house outside of the
holiday season. This time around we’ve got the DK’s “Holiday in
Cambodia,” Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” Modern English’s “Melt with
You,” Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus,” and, of course, Vanilla
Ice’s “Ice Ice Baby.” On the Christmas tip, we get those barking
keyboard dogs doing their best “Jingle Bells” and an assault on
Charlie Brown’s “Christmas Time Is Here.”  — Matt

The Shins Wincing the Night
Sub Pop; January 2007

Though the first single off Wincing the Night Away
picks up right where 2003’s Chutes Too Narrow left off,
the remainder of The Shins’ latest release marches forward in
directions both surprising and enjoyable. While holding fast to the
whimsical lyrical elements that endeared so many to the band’s
previous efforts, frontman James Mercer takes the time here to
delve a bit deeper and get a bit darker. Trading in hints of twee
pop twang for a slew of synth beats and slide guitar riffs, the
band comes off sounding decidedly more mainstream rock than offbeat
indie without losing their integrity. — Aly Comingore

Kris Kristofferson This Old
New West Records; March 2006

Even if you’re tired of the old-guy-produced-by-young-guy
movement (Cash, Diamond, Bourke), you’ll love This Old
. Down-home and dusty, with a bucket of bile thrown in,
Kristofferson holds nothing back. Don Was’s forceful production
puts Kristofferson’s muscular, commanding phrasing right there in
the middle of the speaker, punching away at you like a boxer.
Kristofferson has always sounded crusty and craggy, and now, at the
age of 70, that guise truly suits him. This is pugilistic and
gentle, angry and sensitive, caustic and soothing, all at the same
time. And just try to tell me that’s not how you were feeling on a
daily basis during the glorious year of 2006. — Derek


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