Critical thinking: musical notes

Brazilian Girls-Talk to La BombBy Meredith Rivlin The Brazilian Girls are forgiven for their deceptive band name. But what the band lacks in South American females they make up for in their original sound. The lady (Sabina Sciubba) and three gentlemen (Didi Gutman, Jesse Murphy and Aaron Johnston) who make up the Girls prove to create music sexier than any real Brazilian girls could even attempt. A little more than just noise but a little less than structured, Brazilian Girls incorporates as many different languages in their songs as they do sounds. Look out, Manu Ciau. Standout tracks on their new release, “Talk to la Bomb,” include the dark, keyboard laden opening track, “Jique,” on which Sciubba, the lead vocalist, seductively sings lyrics in multiple tongues, transforming even German into a romance language. Disregarding the title, Sciubba does all the work on “All About Us,” on which she demonstrates her talent over a somewhat steady beat. On the other hand, if you can even find a steady beat under “Never Met a German,” dancing is encouraged, while “Rules of the Game” is calmer (which doesn’t say much as far as “Talk to la Bomb” is concerned.) If you find your French 052 is failing you (or you are failing it) and you can’t seem to decipher Sciubba’s lyrics, do not fret. She is known to incorporate German, Italian, Spanish and English into her songs, sometimes using them all in the same one. “It’s this crazy mix of language,” Sciubba explains. “Kind of how my brain functions. It’s very me.”Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor – Lupe FiascoBy Dave Sachs”They call me Lupe, I’ll be your new day/They wanna smell like me, they want my bouquet.” Wasulu Jaco a.k.a. Lupe Fiasco smells good. A prot??g?? of Jay-Z and friend of Kanye (he appeared on West’s release “Touch the Sky), the Chi-town native’s debut solo album from Atlantic/1st & 15th Productions emits a conscious and confident voice in the midst of a mucky mainstream hip-hop scene. “Lupe Fiasco’s Food and Liquor” poises him to be the next spokesman for the Game with lyrics that transcend conventional rap boundaries as he spits verses about skateboarding, coming out of the ghetto, international and race politics and family troubles-not to say Lupe has no street cred, he’s got plenty-it’s just that he’s got a lot to say and only 16 tracks on which to say it. It helps to have Jigga as an executive producer on the LP, but Fiasco’s words are all self-written and insightful, making him the kid genius of hip-hop at 24 years of age. “I Gotcha” is delivered over a Thelonious P beat, co-written by Pharrell Williams and produced by The Neptunes, and makes to be one of the hottest tracks on the album, getting back to rap that actually rhymes in this quick-spitting and fun ode to himself and Chicago. It’s quintessential Neptunes but Fiasco makes it his own with lines like, “Welcome all of y’all to my dark recesses/This is where I keep the bars like bathtub edges/My Ivories And My Doves My Levers and my Zests/It takes half of your bubble bath to match the freshness.” In the more socially conscious “Hurt Me Soul,” Fiasco laments over a sweet piano and string beat about all things that irk him like urban and world conditions him: “Brazilian adolescent disarmament/Israeli occupation/Islamic martyrdom…Sand-camouflaged army men/CCF-sponsorin’/world conquerin’/telephone monitorin’.” Complete with catchy hooks, this track has the makings of a buzzed-over single. Fiasco makes surprising admissions on this song too, confessing he initially hated rap because it degraded women and that he once boycotted Jay-Z (who appears on the very next track) because “he never prayed to God, he prayed to Gotti.” “Food and Liquor’s” first single, “Kick, Push” is a never-give-up narrative about a skater’s perseverance in the face of snitches and bad spills, evidencing the far-reaching scope of this record. As said, it helps to have Jay-Z and Kanye West as contributors on “Food and Liquor,” but Fiasco is an executive at his own company, 1st & 15th Productions, so while calling him Baby Hova is tempting, he is his own MC.Lupe Fiasco tells the rap game on this album, “Come in, Hip Hop, we’ve come to resurrect you.” From album art featuring gangsters wielding and dealing books to the incredibly imaginative and thought provoking content, “Food and Liquor” is primed to do just that.Magic Potion – Black KeysBy Dave SachsUltra simplistic and uninventive, “Magic Potion” is dependableif nothing else.The fourth album released by The Black Keys, the two-man band from Akron, Ohio, is more like a continuation of their previous release, “Rubber Factory” than a pioneering opus.Still, their heavy blues-rock elicits a sound of Goliath proportions despite The Keys’ minimalistDavid approach.Singer and guitarist Dan Auerbach’s distorted delivery is soulful but won’t escape comparisons to Zeppelin, Hooker or Hendrix. It’s when his ghostly wails are sung over his heavy grinding guitar riffs and Patrick Carney’s pinching percussion that the Keys’ sound really takes form.”You’re the one,” the third track on “Magic Potion” yields arare divergence for The Keys as the tempo slows down and Auerbach gets sweet both in melody and in lyrics: “Now I’m old and wise/when I see your eyes/you’re the one/I know.” “You’re The One” marks an infrequent occurrence for the duo in which Auerbach’s weighty guitar is supportive of the lyrics rather than overpowering.”Modern Times” is an intense and wonderfully invasive song, but nothing faithful Keys fans cannot handle.Likewise, “Just a Little Heat” begins just a little harsh but thenlevels out with a seesaw of light-torough riffs and percussion.It’s not that “Magic Potion” is a lousy album-the Black Keys do not experiment enough to risk “lousy” being in their vocabulary- it’s just that a first time listener of the band could grab this cd and basically know the extent of the band’s past repertoire as well as its future potential.Perhaps the blues-rock genre to which the Keys subscribe has no room for wiggle, but the Ohio duo defined themselves when their first release in 2002, and if innovation is on their schedule, “Magic Potion” is more like a non-alcoholic beer-same old taste but no spirit-than remedy for repetitiveness.”Awoo” – The Hidden CamerasBy Erin SullivanAs a follow up to 2004’s “Mississauga Goddamn”, The Hidden Camera’s latest album, “Awoo,” is released today by Arts & Crafts Records. On “Awoo,” The Hidden Cameras continue to weave politics, sexuality, and hymns together to create quirky pop music that has often been described as “gay church folk music” by Joel Gibbs, the front man and only constant member of the band.The Hidden Cameras AREknown for their over the toplive performances and infectious energy. “Awoo” is album that combines those techniques to drive the listener to sing and dance along with its orchestrated pop songs and folk-influenced vocals.The album begins strong with “Death of a Tune” which, despite the deceptive name, is a lively song that borders between pop and folk with its orchestration, intense guitars and country style vocals.The energy from the opening track continues on through theCamera’s sophomore album with “She’s Gone,” and “Lollipop”-poppier songs that could inspire head bopping and sing-alongs.”Awoo” slows down when it reaches “Fee Fie,” a gentle andpleasant melody backed by a variety of string instruments, but from there, Gibbs heads back to his folk influences on “Follow These Eyes,” “Heaven Turns To” and “Wandering.”The change of pace allows The Hidden Cameras to express their musical range with more compositionally darker songs. While it is a noble attempt, it is at this point that the album drags a bit, especially when compared with the energy inthe beginning of the album.After this slight departure the pace of “Awoo” picks back up during the delightful “For Fun” and continues on to the hand-clapping friendly and appropriately titled end track, “The Waning Moon.””Awoo” is the best release from The Hidden Cameras thus far.The band has created an album that is more mature and structured, while using a quirky and feel-good approach that will delight and gratify.