Collaborative effort on Saul William’s new album can be heard for free

The average MC likes to fancy himself a poet. Slam poets often call themselves rappers. For the most part, neither of these statements is true. In rare cases we have people like Sage Francis, who are successful in both roles, but only because they are very skilled at one and can manage to half-ass the other.

‘Strawberry Jam’ a good reason to deviate from the mainstream

Despite the cunningly strange and almost unbearably experimental records the Baltimore electro-folk rockers Animal Collective have released the past four years, their eighth studio effort, "Strawberry Jam," delivers a wonderful combination of altered and saturated electronic noise located delicately under a layer of sweet-sounding summertime pop hooks.

Iron & Wine’s new album revives listeners with new sound

Iron & Wine sucks. Anyone who has purchased an Iron & Wine album was fooled into doing so by sole member Sam Beam. The best bit of trickery Beam has is to make the music interesting enough to buy during the first half-listen. See, Iron & Wine doesn't suck because the music is bad.

UNKLE describes their ‘War Stories’ from albums past

James Lavelle is nuts. But maybe that's UNKLE's defining factor: James Lavelle is nuts. The man who started the band insists on full cardboard packaging on all of his CDs, possibly having some grudge against plastic. His albums, which started out creepy and cinematic, only get more so with every release. And his band roster is most similar to that of The Gorillaz, but without the successful gimmick of a cartoon front.

Pharoahe Monch creates newfound ‘Desire’ in hip-hop with latest album

When Pharoahe Monch's sophomore album, "Desire," was released with a picture of Pharoahe bandaged up like a mummy on the cover, it was hard to figure out if he was joking or not. "OK, we get it. You're a mummy, like a pharaoh. Hey, look at that - as the CD booklet progresses, you're unraveling your bandages..."

Old sounds resurface in Bj?rk’s new album, ‘Volta’

Bj?rk serves as a rite of passage for young music hounds' professional opinions. It's only when they hear the Icelandic wonder that aural aficionados realize that what someone thinks of a piece doesn't matter. Bj?rk is so strange and obscure that every opinion somehow manages to be objective fact.

‘Minutes to Midnight’ – New album’s different sound unlikely to bring in new fans

In a world of music elitists, aspiring industry hounds and coffee-table artist development divisions of record labels, Linkin Park will never be anything more than a guilty pleasure or the favorite band of some kid with bad taste in music. Linkin Park's time is just about up.

Old sounds resurface in Bjork’s new album, ‘Volta’

Bjork serves as a rite of passage for young music hounds' professional opinions. It's only when they hear the Icelandic wonder that aural aficionados realize that what someone thinks of a piece doesn't matter. Bjork is so strange and obscure that every opinion somehow manages to be objective fact.

Adult. pursues elegant musical perversity in ‘Why Bother?’

The Hamburglar occupies a curious place in the pantheon of McDonaldland - a twisted and idiosyncratic niche that is much the same as that held by the Detroit technopop duo Adult.

Bloc Party’s ‘Weekend’ trip not for travel-weary listeners

Listening to Bloc Party's second album is like listening to the sound of being just barely too cool for school. It's a golden age that can happen at any time: the briefest window when one realizes whatever rat-race one happens to be engaged in is an illusion that won't have any lasting impact on the course of one's life and it's possible to breeze by armed with half-baked ambition and the knowledge that it doesn't matter what people think - until the next crushing societal pressure takes hold of one's psyche, and the window closes.

Redman transcends bland beats with wry rhymes

Redman is better than your favorite rapper. This isn't an opinion. This is an objective fact. Easily one of the most consistent MCs out there, Redman recorded an obviously good album with "Red Gone Wild." Even after his six-year hiatus, was there ever really any doubt? Though he's never been known for being clean, Redman took his triple-extra-grimy style down two notches when "Doc's Da Name 2000" came out in 1998.

Local bluegrass band Well Strung earns fans, First Tap stage

Local bluegrass and country band Well Strung has recently earned local fans, and the stage at Bear Tooth Theatre Pub's April 5 First Tap. Well Strung will be featured at the 9 p.m. event where the brewery will introduce this month's new beer, Dientee Del Oso.

RJD2’s newest melodic lullabies will not put you to sleep

It was after the end of his set in a Denton, Texas bar called Hailey's in 2004. RJD2 had been complaining to the sound men that it sounded "like a fuckin' dolphin (was) screaming through the monitors." The crowd didn't care. They all just cheered the DJ on and cursed the sound men.

Hella’s tight musical chops impressive but monotonous

"Chops" refers to a level of playing that reflects hours of practice. The etymology of the term is anatomical, stemming from the shape of an experienced wind instrument player's mouth, when the musculature inside the face and jowls is toned and refined by prodigious levels of practice to become supernaturally efficient at performing the peculiar task of blowing into a horn.

Cynical ‘Back to Black’ tells the raw dark truth about love

This album doesn't need a review; it needs a warning. Here goes: Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" is not for delicate ears. On "Back to Black," Winehouse takes the bitter conversations a young 20-something would really have and puts them on a record. She comes off so raw that Wu-Tang Clan's Ghostface Killah put her song "You Know I'm No Good" on his latest album.

Cursive crafts dynamic new sound in ‘Happy Hollow’

Cursive, an indie rock band with tours spanning three continents, struck a chord with critics with its 2004 album, "The Ugly Organ," and received a crescendo of applause from alternative music magazines like Spin, Blender and Alternative Press for its 2006 album "Happy Hollow" .

BARR’s cubist pop in ‘Summary’ blows the mind

On the first album he recorded with his band, The Modern Lovers, Jonathan Richman droned 31 years ago, "I called this number three (insert interminable, sweaty pause here) times already." "I'm Straight" was his talk-singing declaration of drug-free romance, which cut through the snarky, Teflon-ironic fa?ade of late-seventies punk music with its startlingly unguarded, conversational delivery.

Rza’s ‘Afro Samurai’ soundtrack stumbles

A great soundtrack can make a mediocre movie good, as Zach Braff and Eminem can attest. And a soundtrack can't be critiqued without taking its film into consideration. The Wu-Tang Clan's Rza was hired to score the anime miniseries "Afro Samurai," so there's no question as to the level of excellence that the soundtrack achieves.