Feature ·

First Look: 05.24.05 (Common, Gorillaz, Sleater-Kinney)

Heading to the record store? Here's what's new this week.


Album samples
Album titles don't come any more appropriate than this -- Be is a concise set of eleven songs about just getting by on Chicago's mean streets. In the mid-nineties, Common was rhyming about emotional uplift and spirituality while gangsta rap was hitting its commercial stride. Even if "conscious hip-hop" has since become something of a cliché, Common's sixth album displays all the engaging passion, wisdom and introspection that made earlier releases including Resurrection and Like Water for Chocolate classics. The pre-release buzz is already touting Be as a contender for album of the year. With producer and fellow Chicago native Kanye West on deck to support Common's caramel flow, that might not be much of a stretch.



Demon Days

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Anyone who has heard the insidiously catchy recorded work of Alvin and the Chipmunks knows that Gorillaz wasn't the first cartoon collective with pop smarts. They're definitely the best connected, though. The follow-up to Damon Albarn and Company's multi-platinum-selling debut features production from Danger Mouse (he of the Jay-Z/Beatles mash-up), plus cameos by MF Doom, Roots Manuva, Shaun Ryder, Neneh Cherry, De La Soul, Martina Topley-Bird, Dennis Hopper (!?) and Ike Turner (who I hope wasn't asked to provide any beats). Val Kilmer was reputedly so taken by the album's deft melding of hip-hop, pop, dub and electronica that he tapped Albarn to produce his upcoming solo debut. You know you've got a hit when the Voice of God from Prince of Egypt digs your stuff.


The Woods
Sub Pop

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You can expect a few things from any Sleater-Kinney album: Sonic Youth-like interlaced guitar lines, Janet Weiss's drum abuse, and Corin Tucker's inimitable ululating. Though these trademarks are gloriously intact on The Woods, the band's seventh album and first for Sub Pop, what's remarkable about this one is the new stuff: ferociously distorted bottom end, extended song lengths, and -- get this -- guitar solos. Producer Dave Fridmann (Weezer, Flaming Lips) is no stranger to fuzzed-out, amped-up psychedelia, and he convinces the band to unleash its inner Jimi Hendrix Experience. The results are startling. The Woods is the biggest, nastiest, most ambitious and most successful album of Sleater-Kinney's career.


Stephen Malkmus
Face the Truth

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Uh oh. What could that title mean? Is this the album where Stephen Malkmus reveals he's gay? I doubt anyone would be surprised. Could it be a subtle hint that he's tired of irony, and he's finally cut a sincere record? Not likely--this guy's gonna be winking and smiling long after you've bought the final Curb Your Enthusiasm DVD set. Whatever this "truth" is that we have to face on his third post-Pavement outing, it's clear that Malkmus has matured; his solo material lacks the art-damaged insouciance of his erstwhile band's best work. But that's not to say he's grown stale. The arrangements here are just as quirky, the lyrics just as clever. Everyone on the album is having boatloads fun, they're just doing it professionally. So ... is he gay?


Annihilation of the Wicked

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I know the combination of death metal and death-obsessed Egyptian mythology seems obvious to you and me, but nobody had tried it before Nile floated downstream in 1993. Hell, nobody has tried it since. Mastermind Karl Sanders writes epic tunes that balance hyper-speed blast-beats and, riffing with Middle Eastern instruments and ominous chant, easily transcending the thematic gimmick through his total commitment to it. Objectively, Nile's music is pretty ridiculous -- imagine Cookie Monster deciphering the Rosetta Stone, and you're somewhere in the ballpark of Sanders's vocals. But holy wooden phallus of Osiris, is it ever potent. If Moses were still around, he'd say, "Let my people rock."


Aaron Hall: Adults Only (Head Start Music GRP)
Alex Chilton: Live in Anvers (Rykodisc)
The Alkaline Trio: Crimson [ENHANCED] (Vagrant)
Arturo Sandoval: Live at the Blue Note [CD & DVD] (Half Note)
At the Drive-In: Anthology: This Station Is Non-Operational (Fearless)
Audio Bullys: Shot You Down Pt.1 and 2 [CD-SINGLES] [IMPORT] (EMI)
Audioslave: Out of Exile (Interscope)
B.G.: Heart of Tha Street (Koch)
Be Your Own Pet: Damn Damn Leash [CD-SINGLE] (XL/Beggars)
Belle and Sebastian: Push Barman to Open Old Wounds (Matador)
Bruce Dickinson: Tyranny of Souls (Sanctuary Records)
Capone: Pain, Time and Glory (Fastlife)
Chet Baker: Love for Sale (Just a Memory)
Chet Baker: Very Best (Blue Note)
Clever: Breakbeat Science Exercise 5 (Breakbeat Science)
C-Murder: Truest **** I Ever Said [Chopped and Screwed] (Koch)
Collective Soul: From the Ground Up (El Music Group)
Common: Be (Geffen)
The Coral: Invisible Invasion [IMPORT] (Song BMG)
Death In Vegas: Satan's Circus (Fuel 2000)
Devendra Banhart/Jana Hunter: Devendra Banhart/Jana Hunter (Troubleman Unlimited)
Drew Gress: 7 Black Butterflies (Koch)
En Vogue: Hold On and Other Hits (Rhino Flashback)
The Get Up Kids: Live @ the Granada Theater (Vagrant)
Girlyman: Little Star (Daemon)
Gorillaz: Demon Days (Virgin)
Gucci Mane: Trap House (Big Cat)
Head of Femur: Hysterical Stars (Spin Art)
Jackson Browne: Running on Empty [Bonus Tracks] (Rhino)
J-Live: Hear After (Penalty)
Joshua Redman: Momentum (Nonesuch)
Jus Allah: All Fates Have Changed (Babygrande)
Lou Rawls: Very Best (Blue Note)
Lucero: Nobody's Darlings ()
Luciana Souza: Duos II (Sunny Side)
Magic Arrows: Sweet Heavenly Angel of Death (Wobblyhead)
Maria Taylor: 11:11 (Saddle Creek)
Meat Beat Manifesto: At the Center (Thirsty Ear)
Miles Davis: Very Best (Blue Note)
Molly Hatchet: Warriors of the Rainbow Bridge (Steamhammer Us )
Morcheeba: Antidote [IMPORT] (Echo UK)
Natacha Atlas: Best of Natacha Atlas (Beggars Banquet Us)
Negativland: No Business (Seeland)
Nikka Costa: can'tneverdidnothin' (Virgin)
Nile: Annihilation of the Wicked (Relapse)
Nitin Sawhney: Philtre [IMPORT] (V2)
Okkyung Lee: Nihm (Tzadik)
Original Soundtrack: Lords of Dogtown (Geffen)
Original Soundtrack: Madagascar (Geffen)
Original Soundtrack: Mysterious Skin (Commotion Records)
Original Soundtrack: The Longest Yard (Universal)
Plane: Hello More (Future Farmer)
Pretty Ricky: Blue Stars (Atlantic)
Queen Latifah: Hip-Hop Hits (Rhino Flashback)
The Raspberries: Greatest (Capitol)
Robert Cray: Twenty (Sanctuary)
Screaming Trees: Ocean of Confusion: Songs of Screaming Trees 1989-1996 (Sony)
Seether: Karma and Effect (Wind-up)
SF Jazz Collective: SF Jazz Collective (Nonesuch)
Shelby Lynne: Suit Yourself (Capitol)
Shout Out Louds: Howl Howl Gaff Gaff (
Sleater-Kinney: The Woods (Sub Pop)
Son Volt: Retrospective: 1995-2000 (Rhino)
Sparrow: Early Years (Absolutely Kosher)
Stephen Malkmus: Face the Truth (Matador)
Thelonious Monk: Very Best (Blue Note)
Thunderbirds Are Now!: Necks [EP] (Action Driver)
Tru: Truest **** I Ever Said [Chopped and Screwed] (Koch)
Various Artists: Best Blue Note Album in the World, Vol. 2 (blue Note)
Various Artists: Blazin' Reggae (Razor and Tie)
Various Artists: Motown Remixed (Motown)
Various Artists: The Light in the Piazza(Nonesuch)
Various Artists: Tribute: A Tribute to Public Image Ltd (Underground Inc)
Violent Femmes: Freak Magnet [Bonus Tracks] (Shout Factory)
Violent Femmes: Violent Femmes (Shout Factory)
The Wallflowers: Rebel, Sweetheart (Interscope)
Young Gunz: Brothers from Another (Roc-a-Fella)
Youth Group: Skeleton Jar (Epitaph)
*Release dates may change. E-mail brandon@prefixmag.com with correction or additions.


Prefix Sneaker Vote now. - Scratch our back and we'll sratch yours. First Look: 05.31.05 (Animal Collective, Four Tet, Bjork)
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