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  1. Talking to Kurt Braunohler About Kill Rock Stars, Hot Tub, and Doing Dumb […]More people are probably fans of Kurt Braunohler than even realize it. With his affinity for absurd pranks, both big and small, he’s brought […]
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    Sixties Concert Discs Capture James Brown In His PrimeThis three-disc set remembers the Godfather of Soul in his prime, onstage at three 1968 concerts.
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    Neo-Soul Master D’Angelo Revisits Chiseled HeightsThis stacked two-disc best-of hearkens back to D’Angelo’s chiseled heights as a minimalist R&B master, when we were just putty awash in his gently plucked near-whisper of a croon.
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    Coldplay, With Brian Eno, Revolt Against Piano-DudenessThe CD reaches the band’s trademark soaring melodic heights but with clever instrumentation, experimental production, and teamwork.
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    Lil Wayne’s Overdue Album Culmination of His Mix TapesAfter delays worthy of a municipal construction project, Tha Carter III is actually here. And it is everything we’d hoped it would be.
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    Song From the Wiser Side of Romantic-Existentialist DivideThe spirit of Sam Phillips’s sublimely resigned new album is summed up in the chorus to the first song: “No explanations / No more explanations.”
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    Pimp C Remembered With Album Worthy of UGK LegacyMorose, accusatory, and nostalgic, II Trill is a heavy slab of Bun B’s psyche on wax.
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    Pop Cheeseball Jason Mraz Is Aging Very WellBut he’s not Justin Timberlake, that onetime pop nerd turned smooth operator, either.
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    Free Nine Inch Nails Album: Fully Worth Download Time!In the two days since NIN surprised us with yet another album—this one free to download, and with singing!—we’ve reconnected with Trent Reznor, dirty pop-song writer.
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    Buckshot and 9th Wonder Link Up For Riding MusicFrom the lighter-than-air choral flourishes garnishing the album’s intro to the sped-up soul strings driving the closing track, The Formula soars.
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    Steve Reich’s Latest Captures Tragedy and Reveals LifeReich’s tribute to Daniel Pearl ranks among the composer’s most brooding and discordant work.
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    The Breeders Float On With Another Tour de ForceIntegrity’s not something we’d wish on any band, but the Breeders wear it exceedingly well…
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    Chicha Libre: Brooklyn Meets Peru Via Flirty FunkThis veteran Brooklyn band, together for twenty years, have only just released their first studio album.
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    Counting Crows Split to Make One Renewed WholeWe love the quieter second half for capturing Adam Duritz’s sweetly escapist view of New York.
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    Zooey Deschanel’s Band Almost As Good As Her ActingZooey Deschanel’s voice — a versatile croon big enough for the back rows — bends and turns to Ward’s shifting guitar blues in a blend of honky-tonk, lounge act, and fifties girl group.
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    No Hipster Tyke-Rocker, Just the King of All Tyke RockHere’s a throwback to simpler times, when kids’ music sounded like kids’ music.
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    Stephen Malkmus Conquers Prog-Rock, Calls It ‘Trash’“Cold Sun” is as stunning as anything Stephen Malkmus has ever written, and the title track pulls off the rare feat of being catchy and ten minutes long.
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    ‘Living Bridge’: The Indie-Rock Compilation of the YearHere’s a rare indie compilation perfect for geeks and novices alike: a two-disc collection of otherwise unavailable tracks from bigger-name bands as well as unknowns.
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    Janet Jackson Hits the Dance — and Bedroom — FloorJanet Jackson hit the big 4-0 last year, but the lighter-than-air sex jams on her tenth studio album are still blush-inducing — which is not to say embarrassing.
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    Yelpy Pop Dudes Simple Plan Give a Go at Overblown RockYou may think of Simple Plan as yelpy pop rock, but these guys are scarily good at embodying whatever kind of sound they like.
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    Clipse’s Latest Mix Tape: Not Quite Classic, But Still ClipseThe best rap group grinding is back, and Pusha T and Malice are as cool-going-on-cold as ever delivering their impeccably crisp punch lines.
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    Shelby Lynne Meets Dusty and Does Right by HerRecorded in just five days, with only one original track, and based on a concept hatched by Barry Manilow, this Nashville refugee’s latest sounds like a stopgap at best — until you actually listen to it.
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    Columbia Professor Gathers Data at GunpointIn his penetrating book Gang Leader for a Day, the Columbia prof recounts his time infiltrating and, yes, overseeing, for one day, Chicago’s gangbangers.
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    D.J. Conjures Beats From Genres You Should KnowWhen Jay-Z told us “you ain’t got enough stamps in your passport to fuck with young H-O,” we shrugged; if the scrappy Montreal D.J. Ghislain Poirier were to make the same boast, we’d nod vigorously in agreement.
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    ‘Odelay,’ the Best Album of 1996, Goes ‘Deluxe’Before reinventing himself as a melancholy Scientologist, Beck Hansen proudly rap-sung about rocking the plastic like a man from the Catskills, passing the dutchie from coast to coast, and doing the hot-dog dance.
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    Magnetic Fields Redeem Bitter Plight of Human ExistenceStephen Merritt is almost a music academic: cold, detached, mathematical, studying pop form in order to bend it to his will.
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    Medeski, Martin & Wood Devote Their Jazz Talent to KidsMoments of mayhem mix with the sweet sounds of children in this first family CD by New York’s (arguably) premier alt-jazz trio.
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    ‘Golden Opportunities Mixtape’ is gloomy, great—and free.Now free on the band’s site is Golden Opportunities Mixtape, a collection of covers and one original track, all recorded at various radio stations, gigs, and “empty hotel stairwells.”
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    Kids play Steve Reich better than he can.When a 1976 work became the obsession of a group at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, it was clear that New York had lost its exclusive on Steve Reich.
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    Once again, Ghostface Killah makes year’s best rap disc.Big Doe Rehab’s coke-slingin’ dramas do not miss—it’s hard to imagine that any of the thousand rap records coming out next month will best this one.
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    Barbez front man’s latest inspired by Paul Celan’s poetry.Dan Kaufman, of the band Barbez, has recorded a quiet, haunting album of rock songs after the astringent poetry of Paul Celan that is admirable in its unpretentious literariness.
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    A throwback comeback album from Roc-a-Fella’s Freeway.Free At Last’s tracks are classic throwbacks, full of seventies-soul samples backing the bearded one’s gruff vocals.
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    ‘Phineas McBoof’ is a story album for lil’ scat-humor fans.This enormously silly CD is perfect for little ones just discovering scatological humor (that is to say, poop jokes).
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    Sérgio and Odair Assad multiply two guitars by 40 years.The Brazilian guitar duo Sérgio and Odair Assad have been collaborating for over 40 years, and this recent album is a blissful testament to the richness of their pairing.
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    Alicia Keys’s ‘As I Am’: Just the way we like her.Alicia Keys is smooth. And smart, and controlled — put unromantically, a sort of R&B player piano with songs you want to hear again and again.
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    Jay-Z’s ‘American Gangster’: Everything the movie is not.Jay-Z’s Frank Lucas–inspired glance back at the crack-as-opposed-to-salad days, wherein the resurgent master artfully skirts tearful regret and unchecked braggadocio.
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    Coheed and Cambria advance a mind-blowing tetralogy.Geekery sublimates into full-throttle catharsis on No World For Tomorrow, a combination of fleet tempos, ultra-sticky choruses, and unreconstructed heavy-metal wanking.