Quarters for the Jukebox

Single — 4 Minutes by Madonna (featuring Justin Timberlake)

4 Minutes 

4 Minutes is first, technically 4:05, and for a song with a lyrical sense of urgency (” … we only got four minutes to save the world … “), it’s puzzling the first 50 seconds are used for a repetitive introduction (granted, the radio version will be shortened by close to a minute — making “4 Minutes” actually three minutes). It’s the first single from Madonna’s new album, Hard Candy, and the back beat is in place here, but overall, the song sounds like no one really exerted themselves (or tried) in producing this. It feels like everyone just mailed it in, which is disappointing when you think of the names associated with it (Madonna, JT, Timbaland). Either way, I’m sure this will fill the top 40 radio waves soon. Check for yourself.

Worth listening, if you like: Madonna; Justin Timberlake; Timbaland; Michael Jackson; Britney Spears.


Album — The Odd Couple by Gnarls Barkley

Gnarls Barkley 

Gnarls Barkley embark on following up to their 2006 anthem single, “Crazy” (a song that seemed to be covered at almost every live show that year). From a collection of songs standpoint, this effort doesn’t stray much from 2006’s album, St. Elsewhere. If anything, I’d say the couple has built on their past and put forth a stronger (and more accessible) mix. From an anthem single standpoint, there’s no “Crazy” replacement here, and I’m finding this a good thing. There are some very good (and single-worthy songs), and none sound like artists trying to redo something they’ve already done (as numerous one-hit wonders follow-up by continuously trying to recreate the magic they lucked upon before).

Gnarls Barkely sound progressive, and have an improved sophomore album here, continuing to fill an eclectic mainstream music gap until Andre 3000 drops something new. Check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: A Little Better; Run (I’m a Natural Disaster); Open Book.

Worth listening, if you like: Outkast; Beck; Kanye; Black Eyed Peas; Gorillaz; Pharrell; Genesis; Dungeon Family; Dangerdoom; Kelis.

EP — Until That Day by Easy Star All-Stars

Easy Star All Stars 

Easy Star All-Stars have spent the past decade (or so), mostly known for their reggae interpretations of other’s songs. Backed by a rotating band cast, the duo’s past two albums, Dub Side of the Moon (Pink Floyd cover) and Radiodread (Radiohead cover of OK Computer), were actually very, very good. I’m not sure if it’s because the material might be a bit weaker, but this EP doesn’t quite measure up as well (composed of originals used during live shows, and an unreleased track from Radiodread). The opening track, Got to Get Away, made me think of an odd mixture of modern R&B with a loose backing of reggae struggling to work. The following tracks sound more like what you’d expect and get the album back on track … but unfortunately, never quite reach the standard this duo has established for themselves. If you’re in need of some new reggae, this group is still a good place to start. Check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: Until That Day; Bed of Rose. 

Worth listening, if you like: Scientist; Augustus Pablo; Lee “Scratch” Perry; Slightly Stoopid; Toots & the Maytals; Dub Syndicate.

Album – Real Emotional Trash by Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks

Malkmus and The Jicks

Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks continue their working relationship, having worked together on previous albums and touring (including the shared credit album Pig Lib, 2003). Real Emotional Trash harkens back to their 2003 offering – trippy, sprawling and a bit dark. There’s something American and vintage and after hours and Kerouac and surprising about the whole record (and note if the opening track isn’t to your liking at first, don’t immediately quit, give a couple of the other tracks a listen first). Check for yourself.

Quarters for the songs: Cold Son; Hopscotch Willie; Gardenia.

Worth listening, if you like: Pavement; Kim’s Bedroom; Elliott Smith; Lou Reed; The Raconteurs; Black Mountain; Syd Barrett.

Album — Small-Time Machine by Cassette’s Won’t Listen

photo by Bob Martus — bobmartus.com

Cassette’s Won’t Listen is a conglomeration of electronica, slight underground hip-hop, indie rock and soft (dare I say, meek) vocals. The “group” is the one-man production of Jason Drake (producer, instrumentalist and music marketing pro). The end result is a batch of songs for a very niche market of fans, who will find plenty to listen to. Check for yourself.

Quarters for the song: Freeze and Explode; The Finish Line.

Worth listening, if you like: RJD2; Pinback; Rob Crow; Elliott Smith; Bloc Party; Built to Spill; Badly Drawn Boy.

Album — Opposite Way by Leeland


Leeland (fronted appropriately by lead singer Leeland Mooring) have been dubbed an alternative indie Christian band, and the group’s sophomore effort — Opposite Way — offers a very good serving of “progressive worship” with soaring vocals and melodies. The production is top-notch, churning seamlessly from song to song and the group exceeds any and all “contemporary Christian” stereotypes to just be a very good and promising band. Check for yourself.

Quarter for the song: Falling For You.

Worth listening, if you like: Keane; Travis; Augustana; New London Fire; Alternate Routes; Ben Kweller.

Single — All I See by Kylie Minogue
March 26, 2008, 8:46 pm
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Kylie Minogue

Kylie Minogue offers a consistent good drop beat while oddly still sounding like a 17 year old girl — which I in no way mean as a knock, as it’s eerily attractive. While the single has the aforementioned beat in place, there’s not a whole lot else going in the track to propel the song past an easy, low-energy summer mix to listen to while driving or getting ready. Check for yourself.

If it were in a movie: summer teen movie, with the song used during the drive to a day at the beach, with plenty of coy flirting inbetween (perhaps ending with a night kiss on the beach?).

Worth listening, if you like: Jennifer Lopez, Madonna, Brandi, Lenny Kravitz, and Mariah Carey.