The Vermont Cynic

[exclaim]ation points

Air

Pocket Symphony(Astralwerks)

Air’s music often walks the thin line between sophomoric idiocy and layered classical brilliance. While never approaching the brilliance of previous albums, “Pocket Symphony” tightropes this line insecurely. The sophistication of the instrumental and trance songs is marred by laughable tracks like the aptly titled “Napalm Love.” While this album can be interesting at times, it should have been left in the elevator where it was found.

Consequence

Don’t Quit Your Day Job(G.O.O.D)

With over 10 years in the game, Consequence has been know for vivid story-telling reminiscent of his cousin, QTip. After a lifetime in the making, “Don’t Quit Your Day Job!” should be a collection of fresh material that finally lets its orator get his solo shine. Instead, Cons offers up a stunted track listing that often leaves him in the background to his frequent collaborators John Legend and Kanye West.

Rjd2

Third Hand(XL)

As with all the best artists, RJD2 strives to expand his musical boundaries. Unfortunately, it seems that this time he’s gone in the wrong direction. On most tracks, the vocals get in the way of RJ’s always consummate grooves. Evolution as an artist is great, but we can only hope that RJ regains some of that fire that he has brought to the table with previous albums.

Amon Tobin

The Foley Room(Ninja Tune)

Electronic beatsmith legend Amon Tobin reinvents himself on Foley Room, an album meticulously created from field recordings and other organic sounds. It is still very much an Amon record, but with fresh new underlying sounds. Best experienced with an expensive stereo system and an empty mind – a true audiophile’s dream.

Exclaimation points

The Good, The Bad and the Queen s/t(Virgin Records)When the bassist from The Clash, the guitarist from The Verve, the singer from Blur and an inventor of Afrobeat music come out with an album, produced by DJ-du-jour, Danger Mouse, you know it’s gonna be good. Unlike other supergroups, GB&Q delivers; its stripped down production and psychedelic feel are refreshing and the album is well worth checking out.Mos Def True Magic(Geffen)If other mainstream rap touches social ills with a ten-foot pole, Mos uses a French fry. Whether he’s singing about “hamburger-murder world” or inventing a good-will dance move (the “Katrina Clap”), he keeps his vocal chords stretched out on this one, often singing his own hooks over simple lo-fi beats. Dope singles: “Dollar Days” and “Napoleon Dynamite.”Deerhoof Friend Opportunitiy(Kill Rock Stars)In their latest album, Deerhoof doesn’t leave anything out: leadsinger Satomi Matsuzaki’s infantile voice, the band’s collective “deconstruction” of pop and the unrestrained instrumentals. Although”Friend Opportunity” is more structured and listener-friendly than previous albums, Deerhoof does not surrender their complexity and Japanese influence.The ShinsWe’ve Come for You All (Sub Pop)All eyes on them, the torch-bearers for “under the radar” music have struck again. The Shins’ third LP marks a return to the dreamy feel of 2001’s “Oh, Inverted World” while maintaining all the hooks and “la-la” choruses of ’03’s “Chutes Too Narrow”. “Wincing the Night Away” may not change many lives, but is far from underwhelming all the same – a worthy addition to The Shins slowly widening canon.of MontrealHissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?(Polyvinyl)of Monreal’s Kevin Barnes drifts from his fabricated and woven stories of past concept albums to create an album in which the only concept is gloom. His vocals remain unchanged while the rest of the band take on a more somber tone, leaving their often silly lyrics behind. It is obvious from “Hissing Fauna” that there has been a recent breakup in Barnes’ life.

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[exclaim]ation points