reviews 2006

Hell Hath No FuryHell Hath No Fury available on iTunes

The Clipse Hell Hath No Fury

After a four-year drought stemming from a record label deal mishap, sibling rapper duo The Clipse have finally released their second album, Hell Hath No Fury. The Clipse come from Virginia Beach, the same town as Timbaland, Missy Elliot and The Neptunes. (In fact, super-producing pair The Neptunes are friends with rappers Malice and Pusha T and produced the Clipse album.) Both Jim and Greg feel the album covers much of the same old clichéd gangsta rap territory, but does so with a tremendous amount of artful, novelistic detail. Jim compares it to the literary precision of Ghostface Killah's Fishscale. The sound of the album is dark, brooding, futuristic and inventive. Both Jim and Greg feel the album's production redeems the Neptunes for previous lackluster efforts (namely Pharrell Williams' In My Mind, which made this year's Turkey Shoot). Greg boldly proclaims that Hell Hath No Fury is one of the best albums of the year. That's a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 53
Saturday Night Wrist (Bonus Track Version)Saturday Night Wrist available on iTunes

The Deftones Saturday Night Wrist

Next Jim and Greg review The Deftones' fifth release, Saturday Night Wrist. This Sacramento band came out of the nü metal explosion of the mid '90s. That's“nü”with the umlaut, Jim likes to point out. He feels the rap-rock genre that combines heavy metal with a DJ is played out, much like the gangsta rap genre mentioned earlier. But, he explains, The Deftones moved away from nü metal into a more inventive sound with their 2000 release White Pony. Jim witnessed their evolution first hand when he interviewed the band years ago for a Guitar World magazine interview. Now the band has hired producer Bob Ezrin, the man behind Alice Cooper's albums and Lou Reed's Berlin. Greg considers this“an interesting record in terms of tone and texture,”a“plush-sounding record”that would sound great through headphones, and he applauds the band for making such progress. Yet Greg feels the songwriting lacks substance, so he can only rate the album a Burn It. Jim disagrees and gives it a Buy It. He feels the album is for anyone interested in "hard rock that is trying to push the envelope and redefine itself."

JimGreg
Go to episode 53
Kingdom ComeKingdom Come available on iTunes

Jay-Z Kingdom Come

After a much-hyped“retirement,”Jay-Z has returned with a new album, Kingdom Come. While many folks take up pottery or flock to Florida during their retirement, the hip-hop star became a CEO, bought a basketball team, and made a number of cameos. Perhaps this life didn't satisfy J-Hova, because he was compelled to return to rapping after only three years. But, neither Jim nor Greg can understand the urgency. To them, he just sounds bored. This is not a new issue for Jay-Z — he's often been plagued with a great voice and very little to say. But Greg thinks Kingdom Come is his worst effort ever. The album gets two Trash Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 52
OrphansOrphans available on iTunes

Tom Waits Orphans

Next up is a review of the new album by Tom Waits. Longtime listeners know that Waits is often a bone of contention between our two hosts, and this time is no different. The new record, Orphans, is a three-disc set that began as a trip through the Waits archive. But Waits also added 30 new recordings to the mix. Jim thinks this is a perfect example of the songwriter's consistent inability to self-edit. He used to love Waits, but now just plain hates him. For Jim, Waits is an art-rock caricature, and this album is a Trash It. Greg is a tried and true Waits fan, and thinks that his storytelling is in top form. He is also interested in the sonics on Orphans and thinks it's one of Waits' best albums. He recommends listeners Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 52
LoveLove available on iTunes

The Beatles Love

Despite the fact that they have been disbanded for years, The Beatles are back with a new release entitled Love. The disc is the soundtrack for the Cirque du Soleil production playing in Las Vegas and is a mix of Beatles' sounds drawn from master tapes. Thirty-seven named songs and dozens of unnamed tunes have been put together to make a sort of mashup, but it remains to be seen whether fans will accept this tampering with their beloved Beatles canon. The question for Jim and Greg, however, is why Capitol Records embarked on this endeavor. They would be completely in favor of something modern and innovative being done with the Fab Four's masters, but they both agree that Love is nothing more than a product for sale and a marketing ploy to entice fans to purchase future re-mastered albums. Love gets a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 51
Doctor's AdvocateThe Documentary available on iTunes

The Game The Documentary

Another news-making release is West Coast rapper The Game's sophomore album, Doctor's Advocate. The“Doctor”referred to is none other than hip-hop producer Dr. Dre, who served as a mentor to The Game on his debut album, The Documentary. Though Dre did not work on this second release, he is certainly on The Game's mind. After engaging in some sibling rivalry with fellow Dre protégé 50 Cent, The Game was dropped by Daddy Dre and left to work with new producers like Scott Storch and Will.i.Am. Jim actually enjoyed the production on Doctor's Advocate, and for that reason alone gives the album a Burn It. For Greg, though, it's the lyrical content that he finds most fascinating… even troubling. The Game appears to have some major emotional issues tied to his relationship with Dr. Dre, and has written some of the saddest gangsta rap lyrics Greg has heard in a long time. He recommends listeners sample some of the bizarre antics on Doctor's Advocate and Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 51
The Black Swan - SingleThe Black Swan available on iTunes

Bert Jansch The Black Swan

The final album up for review this week is by Scottish folk legend Bert Jansch. The guitarist and songwriter first received attention from fans like Neil Young, Jimmy Page and Sound Opinions guest Donovan, and now, 40 years later, he has finally been signed to an American record label. The Black Swan, released by Chicago-based Drag City, sounds like a classic Jansch record with melancholic tunes and his signature skillful guitar playing. But, there's also some young blood: Devendra Banhart, Beth Orton, and Mazzy Star's Dave Roback all make contributions. Immediately after listening to the track "When the Sun Comes Up," Jim announces that he despises this record. He thinks it is“pretentious boring drivel,”which he“hated to the core of his being.”This critic gives The Black Swan a Trash It. Greg contends that the guitar playing is brilliant and the songs beautiful. He thinks Jim completely missed the point, and gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 51
Under the SkinUnder the Skin available on iTunes

Lindsey Buckingham Under the Skin

Lindsey Buckingham, best known as the man behind Fleetwood Mac (and Stevie Nicks' ex), recently released his first solo album in 14 years. Under the Skin is a quiet, stripped-down record that was largely recorded in hotel rooms. But, Jim and Greg explain, Buckingham's dulcet tones should by no means imply a lack of turmoil. In fact, he seems as troubled as ever. Both critics really admire how open and emotional the singer is, and how much he has challenged himself musically — but, they're not sure how accessible Under the Skin is. Jim and Greg recommend most fans try the album out for a while and Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 50
Public WarningPublic Warning available on iTunes

Lady Sovereign Public Warning

After much buzz and anticipation, the major-label debut album from Lady Sovereign has finally been released. The British rapper, who is at once both diminutive and loud-mouthed, caught fans' attention after releasing an EP and a number of hit singles, and appearing at festivals like SXSW and Intonation. Now her first full-length album, Public Warning, is being put out by Def Jam. Not a bad way to make an entrance, but Jim and Greg wonder if there was too much expectation. They are both a little disappointed in Public Warning, and wish Lady Sovereign had released an album earlier and with some of her old material. But, they agree that there are a number of catchy, attitude-filled tracks and impressive rhymes, and they strongly urge listeners to not only Burn It, but keep an eye out for Lady Sov in the future.

JimGreg
Go to episode 50
The Black ParadeThe Black Parade available on iTunes

My Chemical Romance The Black Parade

My Chemical Romance debuted at number two on the Billboard charts this week. In fact, the only obstacle between the band and the top spot was a High School Musical star. #2 ain't bad — but the question is whether not or not the album is. The Black Parade is the pop-punk band's third release, made with the help of Rob Cavallo, who also produced Green Day's last album, American Idiot. Both releases are concept albums, but if Green Day was trying to make their version of a Who record, My Chemical Romance seems to be channeling more over-the-top artists like Queen. Jim even calls it the modern day equivalent to Bat Out of Hell (for those of you who don't know Jim, that is a compliment). He is completely impressed by this tale of teen angst and death, and gives The Black Parade a Buy It. Greg appreciates the band's sense of humor (black with a heavy dose of sarcasm), and thinks that the album's finest moments are the over-the-top dramatic ones filled with glockenspiel, drum machines, layered guitars, and even fake cannon shots. But the rest of the songs struck him as generic radio tracks, and he can only give a Burn It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 49
Once AgainGet Lifted available on iTunes

John Legend Get Lifted

The second album up for review this week also charted high on Billboard. John Legend's new album, Once Again, debuted at number three, following My Chemical Romance. Legend received a lot of acclaim, as well as a number of Grammy Awards, for his first release, Get Lifted. So, the pressure was on for this sophomore effort. Both Jim and Greg think Legend is a really wonderful songwriter who brings R&B back to its heyday. And both critics find tracks like "Show Me" (which had surprising inspirations in Jeff Buckley and Sufjan Stevens) to be standouts. But neither felt that Legend was really doing anything new. Therefore Jim only recommends listeners Burn It. Greg agrees that Once Again gives listeners much of the same, but he thinks the same is pretty good. He gives it a Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 49
Alright, StillAlright, Still available on iTunes

Lily Allen Alright, Still

This week, Jim and Greg wanted to review a whole bunch of new fall releases. The first is by British songstress Lily Allen. While her album Alright, Still is not yet out in the States, Allen is already receiving a lot of acclaim. Her grassroots success can be mostly attributed to her MySpace page, which allowed curious music fans to give her music a listen for free. So, while you cannot purchase Alright, Still in the States, Jim and Greg felt it deserved a proper review. Both critics highly recommend this album for its clever lyrics and unique reggae sound, but mostly for Allen's biting humor and breezy attitude. As Jim explains, it's hard not to smile when you listen to a song like "Smile." This set of reviews gets kicked off with a double Buy It for Lily Allen.

JimGreg
Go to episode 46
Boys and Girls In AmericaBoys and Girls in America available on iTunes

The Hold Steady Boys and Girls in America

Next up is the third release from New York rock group The Hold Steady. Boys and Girls in America continues the band's streak of "bar band" music, but our hosts disagree about this record's big musical influences. Greg hears a lot of AC/DC and '70s hard rock in the songs, but Jim really only hears one thing: Bruce Springsteen. As Sound Opinions listeners know, for Jim, this is not good. He calls The Hold Steady's music“lousy,”and finds their blue-collar lyrics really put-upon. Greg doesn't think that Jim is giving head songwriter Craig Finn enough credit. He finds his storytelling smart and very believable. Boys and Girls in America gets a Trash It from Jim and a Buy It from Greg.

JimGreg
Go to episode 46
Ta-DahTa-Dah available on iTunes

The Scissor Sisters Ta-Dah

Next up is the sophomore effort from The Scissor Sisters, Ta-Dah. It's a common misconception that this quintet hails from the U.K. While they have received most of their success across the pond, this gender-bending pop group actually hails from New York City. Scissor Sisters had hits the first time around with singles like "Take Your Mama" and "Comfortably Numb," but the question was whether their schtick was too schticky to last. Greg, for one, really enjoyed Ta-Dah. He thinks that the music is fun and upbeat and perfect for singles play on your iPod. But he thought Jake Shears' (get it? "Shears!") falsetto was difficult to take for an entire album and can only give Ta-Dah a Burn It. Jim liked the album a bit more than Greg. He described it as an amalgam of the best glam, pop, and disco music that you would've heard on '70s AM radio. However, like Greg, he only recommends listeners Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 46
20 Y.O.20 Y.O. available on iTunes

Janet Jackson 20 Y.O.

Janet Jackson ("Ms. Jackson if you're Nasty") has a new album out this week as well. Its title, 20 Y.O., comes from the number of years that have passed since Jackson's seminal hit Control. Janet is back with producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis as well as boyfriend Jermaine Dupri, and she uses the first track of this album to remind the listener of the tough topics she's covered in the past 20 years including,“racism, spousal abuse, empowering women.”Of course, 20 Y.O. isn‘t really about any of these things. Rather, it’s only about one thing: sex. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but Jim and Greg expected more creativity and more of a statement from a woman who was essentially demonized by many following the now-famous wardrobe malfunction of 2004. Boring production + boring lyrics + boring singing = a double Trash It for Ms. Jackson.

JimGreg
Go to episode 46
The Crane Wife (10th Anniversary Edition)The Crane Wife available on iTunes

The Decemberists The Crane Wife

Finally, we move to the literate, fantastic world of The Decemberists. Lead-singer Colin Meloy (a former guest of our fair show) has always been wordy, but with lyrics like“affix your barbs and bayonets, the curlews carve their arabesques,”and song titles like "The Island: Come & See/The Landlord's Daughter/You'll Not Feel The Drowning," he is taking it to a new level. The Decemberists' new album, The Crane Wife, is based on a Japanese folk tale — but despite these lofty inspirations, both Jim and Greg love this album. Jim has never denied his fondness for epic prog rock, but commends Meloy for taking the genre into the present, without sacrificing the hooks. Sound Opinions can vouch for Jim's praise of this record; he beams every time he mentions it. In the past, Greg has given the Decemberists (and Jim) a hard time for being too“twee.”But, he found this album to be the most ambitious of the band's career. He compares much of Meloy's writing to that of English bands like the Fairport Convention and explains that he is“developing into one of the most important songwriters of our time.”So this episode of Sound Opinions ends on a high note (literally, if you listen to Jim's sing-a-long). The Crane Wife gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 46
The Information (Bonus Video Version)The Information available on iTunes

Beck The Information

Beck released his ninth album this week, and boy, do we feel old. The L.A. rocker is also feeling more mature now that he is a married man and a father, but he's still up to his old cutting and pasting, genre-hopping ways. On The Information, Beck Hansen teams up with longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich to pump the album up with a hodgepodge of samples and sounds. For an extra psychedelic touch, the final track is a spacey outro read by author Dave Eggers and director Spike Jonze. Greg is happy that Beck isn‘t repeating himself like he did on 2005’s Guero; he's experimenting with sounds in really inventive ways. But, Greg explains that the hooks and melodies are lacking on the second half of the record. He recommends that fans cut and paste to make their own album, and he gives The Information a Burn It. Jim, however, doesn't think that Beck has ever been better than he is on the good moments of The Information. He recommends fans Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 45
Sam's TownSam's Town available on iTunes

The Killers Sam's Town

The final album up for review is Sam's Town by Las Vegas pop group The Killers. We at Sound Opinions H.Q. must admit that we were highly entertained by Jim and Greg's summation of their latest effort. To quote Jim:“I despise this album with a hatred that I rarely have felt for anyone or anything.”We hardly need to hear anymore, but we're happy to. Both he and Greg understand that The Killers have always been about ripping off '80s New Wave and pop music, but neither can comprehend why they are now throwing bombastic, monster ballads into the mix. Lead singer Brandon Flowers manages to combine the over-singing styles of both Robert Smith and Bruce Springsteen. Greg blames producers Alan Moulder and Flood for simply not knowing better (though the two are also responsible for My Bloody Valentine's almost-perfect record Loveless). Sam's Town is a huge Trash It from both critics.

JimGreg
Go to episode 45
Blood Mountain (Deluxe Version)Blood Mountain available on iTunes

Mastodon Blood Mountain

Warning: The first album up for review may blow out your speakers. Public radio listeners aren't likely to hear the gargantuan sound of hard core rockers Mastodon, so Sound Opinions is happy to bring it you. After Tool's recent release, Mastodon's new album Blood Mountain was the most highly anticipated metal release of the year. Both Jim and Greg find the members of Mastodon to be highly proficient musicians, as well as good students of rock history. They have a keen sense of melody and understand the all-important guitar riff, and their sound harkens back to that of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, as well as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. In fact, we're hard pressed to classify it, though metal fans certainly love to try. Whatever you call it, Jim and Greg urge you to Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 44
The OutsiderThe Outsider available on iTunes

DJ Shadow The Outsider

DJ Shadow released a new album this week, The Outsider. The hip hop/electronica sound collagist, otherwise known as Josh Davis, has wowed critics and fans for years with albums like Endtroducing and The Private Press, but Sound Opinions hopes this latest effort doesn't force him into outsider status. DJ Shadow presents a somewhat different sound here, having composed many of the songs himself rather than using samples, and featuring vocals from guests like David Banner and Kasabian rather than his own production. He's also steeped himself in the hyphy sound, which, like Shadow himself, hails from the Bay Area. Jim and Greg appreciate Shadow's urge to stretch out, but neither thinks this album is a success. In fact, Greg calls The Outsider one of the biggest musical disappointments of the year. Jim agrees that the album is too jagged and pales in comparison to his previous work. Unfortunately, The Outsider gets two Trash Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 44
Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor (5th Anniversary Edition)Food and Liquor available on iTunes

Lupe Fiasco Food and Liquor

After being leaked and speculated about for months, the final version of Lupe Fiasco's debut solo album Food and Liquor was released this week. Lupe, or Wasalu Muhammed Jaco, has previously worked with fellow Chicagoan Kanye West, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z, who executive produced this album. The first single off the album, "Kick Push," is a modest hit, but both Jim and Greg think the song and the entire album deserve more attention. They love how Lupe weaves stories in such a unique way. He's a self-professed geek ("Kick Push" is about skateboarding and the album cover shows an image of the rapper floating through space with his trapper keeper) and you won't hear any typical hip-hop fare on this record. The music digs deep for its jazz and soul samples and doesn't depend on a plethora of cameo star producers. Both critics give Food and Liquor a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 43
I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your AssI Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass available on iTunes

Yo La Tengo I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass

The second album up for review this week is by Hoboken's own Yo La Tengo. I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass is Yo La Tengo's 13th album since husband and wife team Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley started the band in 1984. Their name comes from the cry of "I've got it!" that Mets infielder Elio Chacon would utter in his native tongue. Kaplan is a former rock critic himself, and his eclectic musical tastes are apparent in the music. According to Jim, the band is the epitome of good taste. He describes I Am Not Afraid of You… as a stylistic hodgepodge, but thinks each one of the 15 tracks is a winner. Greg agrees. The band was experimenting with being more subdued in the past few years, and he's glad they've returned to form with tons of genre-jumping on this album. It appears we have another double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 43
FutureSex/LoveSoundsFutureSex/LoveSounds available on iTunes

Justin Timberlake FutureSex/LoveSounds

The final bit of news is the release of Justin Timberlake's second solo album, FutureSex/LoveSounds. The ex-teen heartthrob is all grown up and has aligned himself with producer Timbaland, as well as Rick Rubin and will.i.am, for a darker, more cutting-edge — and yes, sexier — sound than 'N Sync fans are used to. He's also launched an impressive live show that has the charismatic singer fronting an 11-piece band. It's just one of many adventurous moves that are impressing our hosts. Jim explains that with the exception of one bum track which tells the sad story of“a life ruined by meth addiction,”the diverse array of songs on FutureSex/LoveSounds all succeed. He gives it a Buy It rating. Greg agrees, explaining that the songs are fairly avant-garde and hook-less for a pop record. He does not think Timberlake is the best singer in the world, but he pulls off dance music as well as old-school soul. He also gives the album a Buy It. (By the way, Timberlake is not the only former Mouseketeer“dropping”a project this week. We want to extend hearty congratulations to his former girlfriend, Britney Spears, now the mom of two.)

JimGreg
Go to episode 42
B'day

Beyoncé B'Day

One of pop's reigning divas, Beyoncé Knowles, is releasing a new album the day after her 25th birthday. The aptly titled B'Day (not to be confused with this), is Beyoncé's second solo effort since splitting from girl group Destiny's Child. This is a big year for Beyoncé—besides the new album, she is also starring in the forthcoming movie-musical Dreamgirls and still going strong in the role of Mrs. Jay-Z. Jim suspects that all of Beyoncé's other concerns overshadowed her interest in the music on B'Day. With the exception of soul-sampled songs like "Sugar Mama," Jim thinks the album is an unfocused mess and gives it a Trash It. Greg had high hopes for Beyoncé (who can boast singing and dancing ability as well as a pretty face) but her current message is lost on Greg. He can't understand why the former "Independent Woman" would decide to play such a victim. Therefore, despite some good beats and good singing, he has to give B'Day a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 40
Return to Cookie MountainReturn to Cookie Mountain available on iTunes

TV on the Radio Return to Cookie Mountain

TV on the Radio's new album Return to Cookie Mountain is up for review next. The title comes from the name of a world in the Super Mario Bros. game series, solidifying the band's geek-cool status. TV on the Radio is known for its use of weird, atmospheric sound, as well as the falsetto vocals of its two singers, Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone. But on Return to Cookie Mountain, the band's first release on the major label Interscope, as opposed to the indie Touch and Go, these two features irritated Jim more than they pleased him. He would only Burn It. Greg, however, loves this original sound, and urges fans to Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 40
Modern TimesModern Times available on iTunes

Bob Dylan Modern Times

As fall approaches, record companies begin to roll out some of the year's biggest albums in time for the holidays. This week, Jim and Greg review some of the most notable, including the 44th studio release from rock veteran Bob Dylan. Modern Times is actually not a very modern album at all. In fact, Dylan recently dissed all of the music of the past 20 years, including that made by his son. Rather, he opted to record this music in a lo-fi style reminiscent of the music of the '30s and '40s. Jim appreciated Dylan's ever-growing sense of humor and irony, but couldn‘t take some of the tracks’ Bing Crosby/Rudy Vallée style of crooning. He gives it a Burn It. Greg doesn't think that Modern Times is as good as Dylan's previous two releases, possibly because the band seems to be intimidated by their leader, but this effort still merits a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 39
RevelationsRevelations available on iTunes

Audioslave Revelations

Audioslave, the best-selling rock act of the decade, released its third album this week. The band is composed of remnants of successful '90s bands: Lead singer Chris Cornell, formerly of Soundgarden, is joined by Rage Against the Machine's Tim Commerford, Brad Wilk, and super-guitarist/activist Tom Morello. Jim and Greg are both big fans of Morello as a person and a musician, but they can't find much redeeming about Audioslave. At least on this album, Revelations, there appears to be an effort to politicize the music's content. However, it still lacks substance, and the music itself is formulaic. Both hosts give Revelations a Trash It. In fact, Jim says if he had four copies, he‘d trash all of them. Greg adds that there’s only one revelation here—"that this band is really bad."

JimGreg
Go to episode 39
Kelis Was HereKelis Was Here available on iTunes

Kelis Kelis Was Here

Kelis scored a big hit with her 2003 single "Milkshake," and this week she tries to do it again. Kelis Was Here is the R&B singer's first album since splitting from former collaborators The Neptunes and marrying rapper Nas. Our hosts are split on their opinions. Jim is happy to see Kelis working with a variety of producers, including Scott Storch and Will.I.Am, and is glad that her sexual self-empowerment remains intact. The album earns a Buy It from him. Greg finds this record to be pretty generic, though, contending that all of the producers have buffed her personality out. He describes Kelis Was Here as“milkshake leftovers,”and only gives it a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 39
Happy HollowHappy Hollow available on iTunes

Cursive Happy Hollow

Switching gears, Jim and Greg next discuss Happy Hollow, the latest release from Omaha indie rock group Cursive. At first they were concerned that the band, and frontman Tim Kasher, were merely like the younger brothers of fellow Omaha emo outfit Bright Eyes. But Kasher and co. have proved themselves to be really adventurous songwriters and musicians, more in the New Wave tradition than the Conor Oberst tradition. Both Jim and Greg give Happy Hollow a Buy It, though they hope the band gets better live.

JimGreg
Go to episode 39
Game Theory (Bonus Track Version)Game Theory available on iTunes

The Roots Game Theory

Philadelphia hip-hop group The Roots have an album up for review entitled Game Theory. The rappers and musicians largely changed the way hip-hop was perceived by incorporating live instrumentation and rock-style jams into their recordings and performances. Greg has always been a fan, and loves songs like the dark track "In the Music," but doesn‘t think the record is consistent enough. There’s an entire eight minutes of music dedicated to the recently departed producer J Dilla that he can't really excuse—so he gives it a Burn It. Jim believes Game Theory is the best record the group has done since 1999's Things Fall Apart. He loves the dark tone of the record and emotional content of the lyrics, and doles out a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 39
Post-WarPost-War available on iTunes

M. Ward Post-War

The final album under scrutiny this week is by singer/songwriter Matt Ward, aka M. Ward. Ward is a rather beloved member of the indie rock community and has collaborated with everyone from Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, to Jenny Lewis, to the aforementioned Conor Oberst. Post-War is his fifth album since being“discovered”by Jason Lytle (a recent guest on the show). Jim enjoys about half of the album, including a cover of Daniel Johnston's anti-war song "To Go Home," but says the other half“sucks.”He finds it pretentious and pointlessly eclectic and can only give Post-War a Burn It. Greg, however, loves that Ward knows how to create atmosphere. He finds it a beautiful record that sucks you in from beginning to end, earning a definite Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 39
Idlewild

Outkast Idlewild

In the news this week is the release of one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year: Outkast's Idlewild. This is the sixth album from André Benjamin (André 3000) and Antwan Patton (Big Boi), a hip-hop duo who have become major figures in pop music, as well as pop culture. 2003's double concept album Speakerboxx/The Love Below received huge amounts of critical acclaim, as well a Grammy Award for "Album of the Year," and singles like "Bombs Over Baghdad," "Rosa Parks," and "Hey Ya," will go down as some of music's best. So Jim and Greg anxiously awaited this release, which is paired with a film of the same name. Unfortunately, they both had to announce that this is one of the biggest disappointments of the year—and André may be to blame. The melding of his experimental style with Big Boi's more classic hip-hop sound is what made Outkast great, but he seems to have really left the building on this one. Jim and Greg wish the record was less about unnecessary guest stars, faux 1930s inspiration, and eccentricity for eccentricity's sake, and more about good songs. This double album gets a heartbreaking double Trash It. (Outkast fans would be better off checking out Big Boi's recent mixtape, Got Purp? Vol 2.)

JimGreg
Go to episode 38
Back to BasicsBack to Basics available on iTunes

Christina Aguilera Back to Basics

Another big album out this week is from pop princess Christina Aguilera. Or should we say pop queen? The former Mouseketeer is all grown up, and she shows it on Back to Basics (though not grown up in that "Dirrty" way). Rather, the classier Mrs. Bratman attempted to make more classic pop standards like the ones she grew up listening to. The first disc, produced by DJ Premier, is more club-oriented pop music. But the second features live instrumentation and a big band sound, and was produced by Linda Perry, whom Jim refers to as the modern Diane Warren. The problem, according to Jim and Greg, is not that she cannot sing — in fact, she sings a little too well. They wish she had showed a little restraint and didn't feel the need to show off her impressive pipes so much. Another problem is what Christina chooses to sing about: Both hosts wish she would stop feeling so sorry for herself and her celebrity existence. Nevertheless, Jim and Greg think there are a handful of songs worth checking out. Back to Basics gets two Burn Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 38
Port of MiamiPort of Miami available on iTunes

Rick Ross Port of Miami

Also making news this month is Miami rapper Rick Ross. Ross' single "Hustlin" has become the most downloaded ringtone of all time, and his new album Port of Miami, is proving to be one of the big hip-hop hits of the summer. Despite what the study above might have you believe, it is the“drugs”of“sex, drugs and rock and roll”that appear to be prevailing. Trap music is dominating the hip-hop charts, and the lyrics to "Hustlin," "Blow" and almost every other song on Port of Miami are about the joys of selling cocaine. Listening to the record was not such a joy for our hosts, however. While people like Ice-Tand Ghostface Killah have artfully written songs about the drug economy, Ross is not impressing Jim or Greg with anything new. Greg appreciates the bass-heavy production, but recommends listeners hear the music in a club setting, rather than in the confines of their own homes. this debut album gets a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 37
The LoonThe Loon available on iTunes

Tapes 'n Tapes The Loon

Minneapolis band Tapes 'n Tapes released their debut album, The Loon, this week. The indie rock band has been getting a lot of buzz, especially after being added to this year's Pitchfork Music Festival bill. As Jim recounts, members of the band were merely members of the crowd for last year's festival. The Loon, which we learn is the state bird of Minnesota, actually came out independently in 2005, but is now being released by XL Records, a label that's quickly becoming a force in the music industry. Greg was skeptical that the young band would be able to say anything new with the standard guitar, bass, drums combo. And he was right — they aren't saying any thing new, but he likes the way they are saying it. He praises the band for being accomplished musicians and credits the personality of lead singer/guitarist Josh Grier for the band's edge and energy. Jim finds Tapes 'n Tapes slightly more compelling live, but both hosts give this record a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 37
WWIWWI available on iTunes

White Whale WWI

The first album up for review this week is by White Whale. This up-and-coming indie rock group from Lawrence, Kansas first caught the attention of our hosts at this year's SXSW Music Conference. Now they have released their debut album, WWI. Whether the title refers to the Great War, or a great record, is unclear. But, both Jim and Greg agree this album is worth a listen, though not necessarily a purchase. Jim loves the prog rock approach, but can't go with a full Buy It. Greg agrees, explaining that he likes the music and finds White Whale intriguing, but isn't clear on the emotional subtext. He wonders where the“meat”is. Therefore, WWI gets two Burn Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 36
Christ IllusionChrist Illusion available on iTunes

Slayer Christ Illusion

Shifting gears completely, Jim and Greg move on to Slayer. Christ Illusion is their first new release since the one they released on 9/11, and the death metal rockers are as angry as ever. Greg describes some of the lyrics on the album as a“big middle digit”to all religions and all establishments of“the man.”But, as our hosts explain, you don't listen to Slayer for political science lessons. They are a“great American rock band”because of what they do with guitar, bass and drums. Jim prefers them live, but both critics give Christ Illusion a Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 36
One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even ThisOne Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This available on iTunes

New York Dolls One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This

After disbanding over 30 years ago, glam punk legends the New York Dolls are back with a new album, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This. Though the band's first incarnation existed for only a few years, its influence is undeniable. As Jim and Greg explain, without the Dolls, we wouldn't have the Sex Pistols. Heck, we may not even have had Morrissey, who got the Dolls together in 2004 for London's Meltown Festival. The sole surviving Dolls, David Johansen (aka "Buster Poindexter") and Sylvain Sylvain, came together for this album. Upon hearing of this latest effort, Jim and Greg were both excited and fearful. Now, after hearing it, they can say that their worries were not in vain. Jim loves the old Dolls, and can't understand how the band that made One Day It Will Please Us can even call themselves the New York Dolls. For Jim, it's a Trash It. Greg is a little more forgiving. He thinks that the 2006 Dolls come off like a pretty good cover band, and can't completely bash them. He gives the album a Burn It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 35
In My MindIn My Mind available on iTunes

Pharrell In My Mind

The next album up for review is by superstar producer Pharrell. Pharrell Williams is best known as part of the production duo The Neptunes, who have crafted hits for everyone from Jay-Z to Justin Timberlake. He and partner Chad Hugo also recorded some of their own music as N.E.R.D. Now, Pharrell has branched out solo (or as solo as a hip-hop artist can be these days) with In My Mind. A quick glance at the number of hits credited to Pharrell might make this album seem like a no-brainer. But it festered without a release date for such a long time that it raised some eyebrows. And, after giving the record a listen, Jim and Greg can say that those suspicions were not unwarranted. Greg explains that for someone who makes his living creating innovative beats and catchy hooks, the lack of such a sound on this record was shocking. Jim agrees, and neither critic thinks that Williams has the chops or personality to be a solo star. Kanye West, a producer who actually managed this feat, collaborates with Pharrell on "Number One," but it's a dreadful showing from both artists. In My Mind gets a Trash It — and Sound Opinions wonders if Chad is the genius to look out for after all.

JimGreg
Go to episode 35
Highway CompanionHighway Companion available on iTunes

Tom Petty Highway Companion

The hosts return to rock critic mode and review Tom Petty's new solo record, Highway Companion. This is Petty's 18th album in a 30-year career, though only three of these releases have been solo efforts. According to Jim and Greg, Highway Companion is not just a solo record in name. Petty played almost all of the instruments and wrote all of the songs, and the album reflects that. Many of the songs sound like Petty wrote them alone in his bedroom while trying to work out the travails of his past, like a bitter divorce and the death of former Heartbreaker Howie Epstein. The result is a quiet, rather dark album that both Jim and Greg found very moving (albeit sleepy). Petty comes off as rather sad, but also hopeful, and Greg muses that perhaps it is the music providing him comfort. Highway Companion gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 35
Yell Fire!Yell Fire! available on iTunes

Michael Franti and Spearhead Yell Fire!

Politicially charged group Michael Franti and Spearhead has a new album out this week. Michael Franti's songwriting has ranged from R&B to funk to hip hop, and he's been a part of numerous groups including The Beatnigs and The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. On this effort he expands his sound with the help of reggae greats Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. Much of Yell Fire! was recorded in Kingston, Jamaica with the seminal Jamaican producers. While the album's sound is slightly different, the message is no less socially conscious. Franti recorded it after a trip to the Middle East in 2004, and has also released a documentary film based on his travels. Jim respects Franti's message, and strongly recommends people see the movie — but he thinks that the lyrics are weak and wishes Franti didn't sound like he was trying so hard with the reggae sound. His rating is on the cusp between Burn It and Trash It. Greg disagrees, and thinks the production and the dancehall beats were done well, but he has to agree with his co-host about many of the cheesier, U2-style ballads. It's a Burn It for Greg.

JimGreg
Go to episode 34
Impeach My BushImpeach My Bush available on iTunes

Peaches Impeach My Bush

The second album up for review is from Peaches. The Canadian electroclash singer, born Merrill Nisker, has just released her third album, and it doesn‘t fail to deliver the controversy. Jim and Greg couldn’t even say the record's title, Impeach My Bush, on air, instead opting for“Impeach My President.”Peaches, who has toured and collaborated with artists like Justine Frischmann of Elastica, M.I.A., Feist and Gonzales, has always enjoyed pushing buttons and playing with gender roles and cultural norms. Greg appreciated this sensibility when it was paired with sparse production and Peaches‘ trusty beat box, but he found he was much more entertained by her live show than her albums. Greg doesn’t think her ideas are as strong as her visual presence and can only give Impeach My Bush a Burn It. Jim, on the other hand, believes this is Peaches' first beginning-to-end album, and loves her take on the Bush administration, as well as her modern feminist philosophy. He gives it a Buy It, and would even purchase a copy for his daughter.

JimGreg
Go to episode 34
The EraserThe Eraser available on iTunes

Thom Yorke The Eraser

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke recently put out a new album, The Eraser. It's his first solo album, though as he explained to Jim and Greg a few weeks ago, it's perhaps unfair to label it as such. Many of the tracks were composed by members of the band, and it was produced by longtime Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich. But the record is credited to Yorke, so Jim and Greg decide to stick with the term“solo.”Jim has long resisted jumping on the Radiohead train, though he's always enjoyed their rhythm section as well as their live performances — so it's interesting that this album, which lacks the bombast of their live shows, is the one to finally teach Jim to“stop worrying and love the Yorke.”He gives it a Buy It rating. Greg, a longtime Radiohead fan, is actually the dissenter here. He likes the record, but finds it to be merely a modest production, earning a modest Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 33
Testimony: Vol. 1 Life & RelationshipTestimony: Vol.1, Life & Relationship available on iTunes

India.Arie Testimony: Vol.1, Life & Relationship

The number-one album this week is India.Arie's third release Testimony: Vol.1, Life & Relationship. It's the first number-one record for the neo-soul singer, who previously achieved success with Acoustic Soul and its hit single, "Video." But while they admired the earlier album's stripped-down and sensual approach, neither Jim nor Greg find the new effort to be successful. Even though it means well, Jim says that he“despises”Testimony and its pseudo-self-help lyrics. Greg agrees, citing cliché after cliché as reasons he won't be going back for another listen. This number-one record gets two Trash Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 33
American V: A Hundred HighwaysAmerican V: A Hundred Highways available on iTunes

Johnny Cash American V: A Hundred Highways

This Independence Day also marked the release of a new posthumous album from country legend Johnny Cash. American V: A Hundred Highways is the latest in a series of collaborations between Cash and producer Rick Rubin. As Jim and Greg explain, this was an unlikely partnership resulting in extraordinary music. Rubin, who has mostly worked in the rock and rap arenas with such acts as Run DMC and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, brought a new perspective to Cash's music. He highlighted the strength of Cash's vocals and introduced him to songs by Roberta Flack and Nine Inch Nails. But, both Jim and Greg agree that the collaboration was less than amazing this time around. Cash began recording these songs in 2003, after the death of his wife June Carter and shortly before his own, and you can hear his failing health in his voice. Greg likens the experience to that of listening to Billie Holiday's final recording, Lady in Satin. Both albums leave the listener feeling like a voyeur intruding on the singer's pain and sadness. Jim misses the sense of joy and triumph that Rubin helped bring to Cash's work in the last few years. He wishes that the music had a little more“middle finger”in it, referring to the team's famous Billboard ad in which Cash gives the country music establishment the bird. Therefore, both critics can only give American V a Burn It rating, and instead direct fans to two other releases: Personal File and the American Records box set, Unearthed.

JimGreg
Go to episode 32
LooseLoose available on iTunes

Nelly Furtado Loose

Up for review this week is Loose, the third album from singer Nelly Furtado. She had breakout success with her 2000 record Whoa, Nelly!, featuring the hit single, "I'm Like a Bird." But she had less luck with her second album, Folklore, so on this go-around, Furtado sought out acclaimed producer Timbaland. Our critics disagree about the results. Jim finds her newly sexed-out image manufactured and unoriginal. He misses her more adventurous approach to music that incorporated pop with worldbeat and folk. Basically, Jim finds Nelly to be a“skanky ho.”That said, he does appreciate the Latin songs on Loose, and her ballad with Coldplay's Chris Martin. For Greg, these are the worst songs on the album. He prefers the irresistible dance numbers "Promiscuous" and "Maneater," which are full of Timbaland's signature grooves. Greg questions why Jim is upset by a woman being overtly sexual, and explains that he finds her lyrics flirtatious, playful and ultimately harmless. Both critics give Loose a Burn It — for very different reasons.

JimGreg
Go to episode 30
DECEMBERUNDERGROUNDDecemberunderground available on iTunes

AFI Decemberunderground

While they may be experiencing a ticket sales slump, the Dixie Chicks continue to sell albums. This week, however, they were bumped from the top Billboard slot by pop-punk phenoms AFI. The band's seventh album, Decemberunderground, debuted at number one, cementing their status as more than cult-like. AFI, however, would not shy away from matters of the cult. Much of their appeal stems from their depressed, goth, sun-hating, eyeliner-loving image. Angst-ridden teenagers are obsessing over the group as they have done before with bands like The Cure. But this time around is different, Jim explains. To him, the band members are goth posers and represent the popular guy rather than the tragic poet. Greg adds that even their sound is mainstream. He likens the big, slick production values to that of Mutt Lange and his '80s hair bands. Therefore, both hosts give Decemberunderground a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 29
Rather RippedRather Ripped available on iTunes

Sonic Youth Rather Ripped

The second album up for review this week is from noise-rock vets Sonic Youth. Rather Ripped is the 15th studio album by the New York City quartet, who have been playing together for 25 years and up. Producer and multi-instrumentalist Jim O'Rourke joined the band briefly, but on Rather Ripped, Sonic Youth is back to four. The stripped-down lineup translates to the record's sound. The band is known for huge, noisy guitar sounds courtesy of guitar composers Glen Branca and Rhys Chatham, but this effort is a cleaner, more melodic album than fans may be accustomed to — and according to Jim, critics are falling over themselves praising it. Jim can‘t jump on that bandwagon, however. He doesn’t think that Sonic Youth has made a consistently good album from beginning to end since 1990's Goo. He still considers Sonic Youth a great band, but can only give Rather Ripped a Burn It. Greg, on the other hand, believes Jim is being too harsh. He agrees that it is not a great record, but still a good one. There are very few bands that have been able to sustain themselves as credible artists for this long. Greg really appreciates the songwriting, especially that of Kim Gordon (wife of fellow Sonic Youther Thurston Moore). For its dreamy atmosphere and momentum-fueled drumming and guitars, Greg gives Rather Ripped a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 29
The River In Reverse (Digital Version)The River in Reverse available on iTunes

Elvis Costello The River in Reverse

Elvis Costello, the singer/songwriter who has taken on New Wave, punk, ska, country and pop, is tackling R&B on his latest release, The River in Reverse. The album is a collaboration between Costello and Allen Toussaint, the multi-talented New Orleans musician. Toussaint is responsible for hits like "Working in a Coal Mine," "I Like It Like That," and "Lady Marmalade," and has worked with The Band, Paul Simon and The Meters. The two collaborated after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, but neither Jim nor Greg think Costello's voice is up to the task of handling Toussaint's songs. Costello is a name that can garner attention for Toussaint, and Greg knows that his heart is in the right place, but it is only a Burn It record for both critics.

JimGreg
Go to episode 27
Pick a Bigger WeaponPick a Bigger Weapon available on iTunes

The Coup Pick a Bigger Weapon

Switching gears, Jim and Greg next discuss Pick a Bigger Weapon, the fifth album from hip-hop group The Coup. They play a bit of "Laugh, Love, F@#*k" which sets the tone of the record according to Jim. The Coup is known for their lefist politics and electro-synth grooves, but this record was mostly recorded live. Rapper Boots Riley and DJ Pam the Funkstress are joined by Tom Morello, Dwayne Wiggins and members of Maze and The Gap Band for a funkier, psychedelic sound. Greg hears great grooves and enjoys how, like Desmond Dekker, The Coup combine politics with party music, but he can't really recommend most of Pick a Bigger Weapon. Jim believes he is being too kind. He explains that lyrically, many of the songs pander to the lowest common denominator, and he wishes that the grooves were tighter and more hypnotic. Therefore, this record gets a Burn It from Mr. Kot and a Trash It from Mr. DeRogatis.

JimGreg
Go to episode 27
Taking the Long WayTaking the Long Way available on iTunes

Dixie Chicks Taking the Long Way

Three years after telling a London audience, ""We're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas," Natalie Maines and her fellow Dixie Chicks are making headlines again with a new album. And, with singles like "Not Ready to Make Nice," the statement they want to make is clear. Some of their critics might have desired an apology, but on Taking the Long Way, they receive no such thing. Because of this, the band is again being rejected by certain country radio programmers. The real issue, however, is whether or not audiences will embrace the album, which is not a straight-up country record. Produced by Rick Rubin, and written with help from Sheryl Crow and members of Semisonic and The Jayhawks, it has more of a California-rock feel. Jim appreciates that they moved away from the Top 40 Country, but wishes they had taken it even farther, towards a more authentic, alt-country roots sound like Jenny Lewis or Neko Case. He gives it a Burn It. Greg is most taken with Natalie Maines‘ vocals, but also can’t recommend that people buy the album. However, he does think that anyone interested in music should hear it and gives Taking the Long Way another Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 26
The ObliteratiThe Obliterati available on iTunes

Mission of Burma The Obliterati

Post-punk pioneers Mission of Burma have a new album out, their third in twenty years. Shortly after releasing their landmark Vs. in 1982, the group was forced to disband. The signature massive volume of their music took a toll on all of the members, particularly guitarist Roger Miller who developed a debilitating case of tinnitus. In their short run, Mission of Burma became hugely influential; R.E.M. and Moby have both covered their songs. Then, in 2003 the band reunited and later released their second album, OnOffOn. This record was very well-received, something that's almost unprecedented for a reunion album. Now, the band is back with The Obliterati, and Jim and Greg are as impressed as they were twenty years ago. Jim points to the incredible melodies of the songs, as well as their intellectual wit. He also thinks that Chicago-based engineer Bob Weston did an amazing job with The Obliterati. Greg agrees that the band's melodies are as strong as ever, and explains that Mission of Burma's greatness lies in the tension between the melodies and the noise. He still can't believe that a band would make two such great albums in the second leg of their career. The Obliterati gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 26
The True False IdentityThe True False Identity available on iTunes

T-Bone Burnett The True False Identity

Singer/songwriter and producer T-Bone Burnett recently put out The True False Identity, his first album in 14 years. Burnett is best known for having produced albums for Los Lobos, Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello and ex-wife Sam Phillips. He also produced the hugely successful soundtracks for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Cold Mountain, and A Mighty Wind. After over a decade-long hiatus, he returned to the studio with drummer Jim Keltner and guitarist Mark Ribot. Greg is glad to have T-Bone back. He loves how the musician uses the studio as an instrument and gives The True False Identity a Buy It. Jim, on the other hand, listened to the album and prepared to rumble. He compares the music to that of a similar artist: Tom Waits. Jim feels that both men try to be weird simply for the sake of being weird. He wishes that T-Bone Burnett was as effective a producer for his own work as he is for others', and gives this album a definite Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 25
Broken Boy SoldiersBroken Boy Soldiers available on iTunes

The Raconteurs Broken Boy Soldiers

The next album up for review is Broken Boy Soldiers by The Raconteurs. The Raconteurs is a side-project for Jack White of The White Stripes. He is joined by power popster (and fellow Michigan native) Brendan Benson as well as members of garage band The Greenhornes. This marks a bit of a departure for White, who favors a much more minimalist approach with the White Stripes, and Greg is not entirely impressed. He feels that too much of the record is merely a classic rock imitation. Greg suspects that White ceded too much power to Brendan Benson, and wishes that he made more innovative musical choices, as he did on the album he produced for country star Loretta Lynn. Broken Boy Soldiers gets a Burn It from this critic. Jim, however, cannot stop listening to The Raconteurs, and for him that's all that matters. Rock and roll has never been about originality, and according to Jim, every song is catchy and energetic. Jim would Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 25
Just Like the Fambly CatJust Like the Fambly Cat available on iTunes

Grandaddy Just Like the Fambly Cat

Jim and Greg get back into serious critic mode to review two important new releases. First up is Just Like the Fambly Cat by indie rock group Grandaddy. This is the fourth and final album for the Californians, as singer/songwriter Jason Lytle decided to dissolve the band during the making of this record in favor of a simpler life. The conflict between modernity and nature has been a major theme in all of Lytle's songwriting. A key to understanding this is the band's hometown of Modesto — while it is surrounded by the beautiful Northern California landscape, the city is also a victim of homogenized, suburban sprawl. (Its motto even boasts Modesto as the city of "Water, Wealth, Contentment and Health.") Modesto also has an eerie connection to two of the most infamous crimes in recent times: Both Lacey Peterson and Chandra Levy hail from he city. So, Jim and Greg understand why Lytle might want to leave. And they both agree that this album is a beautiful note to go out on. Just Like the Fambly Cat gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 24
10,000 Days

Tool 10,000 Days

On a completely different note, progressive metal band Tool also has a new album out. 10,000 Days is the band's fourth album, and it debuted at number one on the Billboard Chart. Tool's commercial success is surprising considering the band's lack of self-promotion: They rarely get radio or MTV play, seldom do interviews, and perform practically in darkness. They are almost anonymous, yet have a huge cult following. Jim and Greg imagine this is because of the band's progressive rock vibe. They appeal to fans (especially teenagers) who love complete albums and desire to spend hours and hours mulling over one band's work. But, Jim points out, unlike prog rock groups like Rush and Genesis, Tool's music is lacking hooks. It's nü-metal side kind of ruins the package for Jim and Greg. Therefore, despite the fun 3-D packaging, 10,000 Days only gets a Trash It from Greg and an reticent Burn It from Jim.

JimGreg
Go to episode 24
St. ElsewhereSt. Elsewhere available on iTunes

Gnarls Barkley St. Elsewhere

St. Elsewhere is the debut album from Gnarls Barkley, the imaginary front-person for a project helmed by vocalist and rapper Cee-Lo Green and producer Danger Mouse. Gnarls describes himself as the pen pal of long-deceased rock critic Lester Bangs, soul singer Isaac Hayes, and Violent Femmes singer Gordon Gano. He also claims to be the lover of both Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey and the man who taught Kraftwerk English. Most importantly, though, he has become a British phenomenon. The first single, "Crazy," went to number one on the UK singles chart after simply being released as a download, and Jim and Greg hope that the hype can be sustained stateside. Both critics love the combination of Cee-Lo's half-preacher, half-freak vocal style and DJ Danger Mouse's eclectic production choices. St. Elsewhere gets a double Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 23
SurpriseSurprise available on iTunes

Paul Simon Surprise

Gnarls Barkley is not the only noteworthy collaboration discussed on this week's show — in fact, all of the albums up for review feature artists working with noteworthy producers. For example, singer/songwriter Paul Simon made the interesting decision to work with electronic music pioneer Brian Eno. Eno, who co-founded Roxy Music, has produced for David Bowie, The Talking Heads and U2. While this is an impressive résumé, Jim and Greg explain that Eno was still a surprising choice for Simon. Eno is infamous for dragging musicians out of their comfort zones, and Simon is certainly at a stage in his career where he could remain comfortable if he wanted. The result is literally a Surprise, though not necessarily a success, according to one of our hosts. Jim is fond of both the album's multi-layered, ambient sound and its complicated, occasionally self-deprecating lyrics. He gives it a Buy It. Greg, on the other hand, feels that this was a missed opportunity. He predicts that the two artists“tiptoed”around each other too much. It's a little too gentle, too sleepy, and too stagnant for Mr. Kot, who gives it a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 23
The Boxing MirrorThe Boxing Mirror available on iTunes

Alejandro Escovedo The Boxing Mirror

Eno's occasional partner in crime, John Cale, also makes an appearance in this week's show, having produced the latest release from Alejandro Escovedo. The Boxing Mirror is the ninth album from the musician, who can only be described as part-punk, part-country and part-rock. Escovedo grew up admiring the Velvet Underground, and Jim and Greg agree that the match between him and Cale is one made in heaven. Jim has never been a major fan of Escovedo's singer/songwriter style, but he thinks this is his best solo effort, perhaps due to Escovedo's newly found lust for life. He survived a life-threatening outbreak of Hepatitis C a couple years ago, and the music demonstrates that he is indeed very happy to be alive. Greg agrees and compares Escovedo's renewal to that experienced by Neil Young. Both albums give The Boxing Mirror a Buy It and urge fans try to see Escovedo, along with musicians like Susan Voelz, perform live.

JimGreg
Go to episode 23
Blood Sugar Sex MagikStadium Arcadium available on iTunes

The Red Hot Chili Peppers Stadium Arcadium

The Red Hot Chili Peppers also released a highly anticipated album this week. Their 28-song double album was produced by superstar producer Rick Rubin. Rubin previously worked with the Southern California natives on their big mainstream breakout album Blood Sugar Sex Magik, as well as later hit Californication. As the co-founder of Def Jam Records with Russell Simmons, Rubin produced albums for The Beastie Boys and Run D.M.C. He's also acted as producer for Nine Inch Nails, System of a Down, and the late Johnny Cash. It's surprising then, say Jim and Greg, that Rubin would be such a poor editor on this latest effort. Both critics agree that this album doesn‘t deserve to be nearly as long as it is, especially since more than half of the songs can be considered ballads — a far cry from the Chili Peppers’ punk-funk roots. Those ballads are evidence of lead singer Anthony Kiedis' self-proclaimed spiritual transformation, but Jim and Greg are not quite moved. They can still hear a few moments when Kiedis' former, party-loving self comes through. The album, which was recorded in Harry Houdini's former home, is worth hearing for John Frusciante's guitar playing, but not worth a purchase. Stadium Arcadium gets a Trash It from both hosts.

JimGreg
Go to episode 23
We Shall Overcome (The Seeger Sessions) [American Land Edition]We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions available on iTunes

Bruce Springsteen We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions

Sound Opinions listeners know they can always count on a heated conversation when it comes to The Boss. Bruce Springsteen came out with a new album this week (the 18th of his career), We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. This time around, the singer pays tribute to folk artist Pete Seeger, and Jim and Greg completely disagree on whether or not it is worth your time. Greg became a Springsteen fan early on, but has been disappointed in his rock hero in recent years. However, he asserts that We Shall Overcome is Springsteen's best album since Nebraska. He appreciates the more down-to-earth production style and political messages of the songs. He gives it a Buy It rating. Jim, on the other hand, states that this record literally makes him sick to his stomach. He has never been a Springsteen fan, but has occasionally given a favorable review to albums like Devils in Dust. He finds this Seeger tribute musically and lyrically conservative, and basically just completely pathetic. He does not want to hear Springsteen do folk songs ("Froggie Went a Courtin'," anyone?) and wishes that Springsteen followed in the path of Billy Bragg and Wilco, who paid homage to another folk hero, Woody Guthrie. Unlike that album, this one gets a Trash It from Mr. DeRogatis.

JimGreg
Go to episode 22
Pearl JamPearl Jam available on iTunes

Pearl Jam Pearl Jam

After taking a number of years off, alternative rock giants Pearl Jam are now back with a self-titled release. Since their heyday in the early '90s, Pearl Jam has gone through a number of highs and lows. Yet they remain the only band from that alternative era to continue to be able to sell out rock arenas. On this album, they are trying to remain relevant with political songs like "World Wide Suicide," but Jim and Greg feel they only half-succeed. The first half of the record rocks, our hosts agree, but the second half is more sleepy and probably not worth your time. In addition, lead singer Eddie Vedder's lyrics are really hard to understand — but is that necessarily a bad thing? Pearl Jam is a Burn It for both critics.

JimGreg
Go to episode 22
The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living (Bonus Tracks)The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living available on iTunes

The Streets The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living

The first album up for review this week is the The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, the third album from British rapper The Streets. Emcee Mike Skinner first caught the attention of American fans with his debut album Original Pirate Material and its hit single "Let's Push Things Forward." Its follow-up, A Grand Don't Come for Free achieved a lot of critical and commercial success. In fact, it was one of the top albums of 2004 for Greg. People familiar with these albums will know Skinner's rap identity is that of the average bloke — he typically pairs stories of daily life in England with chintzy beats. With this album, however, Skinner can hardly think of himself as the everyman. The narratives in these songs poke fun at his pop-star status and all the pitfalls of fame. While Jim and Greg find this new take funny, they don‘t find it as emotionally poignant. Therefore, it’s a Burn It from Jim, and a surprising Trash It from Greg.

JimGreg
Go to episode 21
On the Jungle FloorOn the Jungle Floor available on iTunes

Van Hunt On the Jungle Floor

R&B/soul singer Van Hunt also has a new album out. His 2004 self-titled debut album was very well-received — listeners could hear the funk influences of bands like Sly Stone and Curtis Mayfield, as well as the more romantic, slow jams of singers like Marvin Gaye or D'Angelo. (And with a pimp for a father and a nurturing caregiver as a mother, Greg muses, Van Hunt's own family parallels his musical influences'.) On On the Jungle Floor, Van Hunt stretches himself more. He makes the surprising choice to cover "No Sense of Crime," a punk classic by The Stooges. And, fans will hear the influence of yet another R&B/funk idol: Prince. However, both Jim and Greg assert that with this release, the grasshopper has surpassed the master, and rate On the Jungle Floor higher than Prince's new album 3121. It's a Buy It for both critics.

JimGreg
Go to episode 21
Ten Silver DropsTen Silver Drops available on iTunes

The Secret Machines Ten Silver Drops

The first album up for review is Ten Silver Drops by The Secret Machines. This is the second album by the psychedelic Dallas band (now based in Brooklyn). Their previous release, Now Here is Nowhere, earned quite a bit of praise and won them some impressive fans. In fact, Bob Ezrin, who produced Pink Floyd's The Wall, even offered to handle Ten Silver Drops. The band decided to go it alone, however, and Jim and Greg manage to agree on the results. For them the album is full of strong melodies, surprising harmonies, and Josh Garza's signature seismic drumming. Both critics believe they may have surpassed their debut album and give this go-around a Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 20
Ringleader of the Tormentors

Morrissey Ringleader of the Tormentors

Mythical. Mopey. Maudlin. Just some of the words used to describe that other Irish pop GodMorrissey. But after listening to his new album Ringleader of the Tormentors, you might have to add lustful to the mix. Morrissey has been famously celibate for a number of years, and that torment served him well. But now he not only admits to sexual trysts in Rome, but makes his own proclivities less ambiguous than in the past. The result gets a Burn It rating from both hosts, but for very different reasons. Jim finds Morrissey's lyrics as biting as ever, but is not impressed with his sonic decisions. Greg, on the other hand, believes a miserable Morrissey is a better Morrissey, but really appreciates the music, which was produced by former Bowie and T. Rex collaborator Tony Visconti.

JimGreg
Go to episode 20
Show Your BonesShow Your Bones available on iTunes

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Show Your Bones

Next up is Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This Brooklyn trio has released Show Your Bones, the highly anticipated follow-up to their debut, Fever to Tell. That successful album produced a hit single, "Maps," and made the band one of the poster children for the new-garage (or new-new wave) scene in New York City. Jim is always skeptical of this scene and of hype in general, but really liked Show Your Bones. He's not sure what lead singer Karen O is singing about, but loves her energy, which channels a combination of Siouxsie Sioux and Chrissie Hynde. Guitar wizard Nick Zinner is also back in top form. Therefore it's a Buy It for Jim. Greg, however, can only give this disc, which was produced by hip hop producer Squeak-E-Clean, a Burn It rating. He thinks there are a number of great tracks, but the songwriting just isn't there.

JimGreg
Go to episode 20
Bitter TeaBitter Tea available on iTunes

The Fiery Furnaces Bitter Tea

The critical discussion really starts to get good with this next album. Oak Park natives Matthew and Eleanor Friedberger, otherwise known as The Fiery Furnaces, have just released their fifth full album, Bitter Tea, and our hosts could not disagree more. Jim has never been a huge fan of this sister and brother team, but this album just irritates the heck out of him. He finds it pointlessly eclectic, pretentious and basically unlistenable. Greg argues that Jim simply has the attention span of an ant. He loves Bitter Tea, and asks listeners to take their time with this one. Greg points to Eleanor's terrific Patti Smith-like vocals and Matthew's inventive, theatrical songwriting. It's a Trash It for Jim, but a Buy It for Greg.

JimGreg
Go to episode 20
FishscaleFishscale available on iTunes

Ghostface Killah Fishscale

Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah also has a new album out. Fishscale is the fifth solo record for this hip hop veteran, who joined the Wu-Tang Clan over a decade ago. Ghostface has always been known as a complicated, skilled lyricist, and he lives up to his reputation on this release. Fishscale, itself a slang term for uncut cocaine, gives a narrative of life on the streets in New York. These stories are paired with samples and beats from producers like Jay Dilla, Pete Rock and Just Blaze. Listen to the sample of a blaxsploitation-style education film in the track we play, "Kilo." Incidentally, this is the first Ghostface solo album without any production from fellow Clansman RZA. Whether or not that bodes in Ghostface's favor is up to our hosts. Jim believes gangsta rap and songs about drug dealing are pretty played out, but admits that Ghostface brings something completely new. He compares the rapper to writer Jim Thompson and gives Fishscale a Burn It. Greg has to go with a Buy It rating. He is compelled by the stories of Ghostface's childhood, the surreal rap tangents and the immense hooks. According to Greg, this record parallels early NWA records and is not only one of the best albums of Ghostface's career, but of 2006.

JimGreg
Go to episode 20
I'm Not DeadI'm Not Dead available on iTunes

Pink I'm Not Dead

Pink has the final album up for review during this week's show. I'm Not Dead is this pop riot grrrl's fourth album. Jim has always been a fan — while other pop starlets are not necessarily the best role models, Pink has always promoted feminism and independence. On her first single, "Stupid Girls," Pink basically satirizes the behavior of her peers, and Jim and Greg both think it's a pretty smart pop song. The rest of the album falls short, however. Pink is a great role model, but on this record, not necessarily a great songwriter. Both hosts believe that the record is sad and leaden and that Pink is taking herself much too seriously. I'm Not Dead gets a double "Trash It."

JimGreg
Go to episode 20
3121

Prince 3121

This week's show begins with a discussion of the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince. The enigmatic musician made news this week when his new album 3121 debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard charts. Hard to believe, but this was Prince's first number-one debut. He has since been dethroned by Atlanta rapper T.I., but it was certainly an impressive comeback for this revolutionary pop icon. Before giving reviews of the album, Jim and Greg discuss other late-career comebacks. In the '90s the Grateful Dead found a new audience with their only Top 40 song, "Touch of Grey." Santana is another artist whose first couple of albums went platinum, but did not find further success until 1999's Supernatural. That album, which paired the guitarist with contemporary pop artists like Rob Thomas, Wyclef Jean and Everlast, sold 15 million copies. Clive Davis tried this same approach with Prince on the album Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, but the results were not as, um, fantastic. Other late career successes include Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, and most recently, Mariah Carey. So is 3121 an artistic comeback as well as a commercial one? For Jim, it is not the achievement that Prince's earlier albums were, but still merits a Buy It rating. Greg is not so kind. There are a handful of tracks that are worth sampling, but this critic only suggests you Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 19
At War with the Mystics (Deluxe Version)At War With the Mystics available on iTunes

Flaming Lips At War With the Mystics

Next up is a review of the new Flaming Lips album At War With the Mystics. The Oklahoma band has been around for almost 25 years, and this is their 12th album. The Lips' first big breakthrough came in 1993 with Transmissions from the Satellite Heart. That album was lauded by Jim and Greg at the time, and the single "She Don't Use Jelly" was one of the big alternative hits of the year. Then, in 1999, the band released The Soft Bulletin, which became a huge critical success, and in 2002, the band finally got some commercial recognition with their first Gold album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. After listening to one of the new songs, "Pompeii am Gotterdammerung" (which gives multi-instrumentalist and musical wizard Steven Drozd his first stab at vocals), Greg gives his review of the album. Jim refrains from offering his review because he feels he is too close to the work. Mr. DeRogatis just released his 5th book, Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming Lips, and the journalist in him can‘t give a rating of the record. However, listeners can certainly surmise his opinions after listening to our hosts’ discussion. Greg admits off the bat that he is not blown away. He feels like the band tried to out-gimmick itself, providing the song "Yeah Yeah Yeah" as an example. Greg admits that the songs translate better live, and Jim predicts that come this summer, when the Flaming Lips perform at Lollapalooza, Greg will have to eat his Burn It. We'll just have to wait and see.

JimGreg
Go to episode 19
On An IslandOn an Island available on iTunes

David Gilmour On an Island

This week Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour released his first album in over ten years. While fans of the band won't get any Roger Waters or Nick Mason, On an Island has a few Floydian moments and impressive credits: David Crosby and Graham Nash on vocals, Richard Wright on organ, and Roxy Music guitarist Phil Manzanera as producer. The songs were also co-written by Gilmour's wife, Polly Samson. These facts did nothing to improve Jim or Greg's opinion of this release. The sleep-inducing, uninspired, uncreative album gets not one, but four Trash Its—one for every original member of Pink Floyd.

JimGreg
Go to episode 15
SupernatureSupernature available on iTunes

Goldfrapp Supernature

Next up for review is Supernature by Goldfrapp. This is the third album from the British electro-pop duo whose inspirations range from Marlene Dietrich to T-Rex to Massive Attack. Greg was a huge fan of their 2002 release Felt Mountain. He is less enamored of this effort, however, and gives it a Trash It rating. Jim is slightly more kind, and recommends listeners Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 15
Fox Confessor Brings the FloodFox Confessor Brings the Flood available on iTunes

Neko Case Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

Next up Jim and Greg review the latest release from Chicago native Neko Case. Many people know Neko thorugh her work with The New Pornographers, but on her solo albums, she shows her alt-country side and really gets to shine. On Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, Neko is joined by longtime collaborators like Jon Rauhouse and Kelly Hogan, as well new musicians like Howe Gelb. For Greg, this is Neko's best album. As always he is impressed by Neko's exceptional voice, and he also notes the powerful songwriting. Jim agrees, though he wishes Neko would let more of her upbeat, Tammy Wynette side show through. Nevertheless, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood gets a Buy It rating from both critics.

JimGreg
Go to episode 14
Ghetto ClassicsStill Ghetto available on iTunes

Jaheim Still Ghetto

Our hosts also tackle the new album by soul singer Jaheim. Ghetto Classics is the last installment in a "ghetto" trilogy, after Ghetto Love and Still Ghetto. Following in the footsteps of smooth singers like Luther Vandross and Teddy Pendergrass, Jaheim loves to sing about love. In his ballads, he is never the player, and prides himself on being respectful of women, even when he is being used and abused. Jim can't imagine that Jaheim ever gets played in real life, but appreciates his old-school, down-to-earth approach to R&B. He and Greg both recommend listeners Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 14
Ballad of the Broken Seas

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan

After listening to some of Lanegan and Campbell's predecessors, Jim and Greg discuss their modern take on the“Beauty and the Beast”formula. Many people know Lanegan from his days with the Screaming Trees in the '90s. Campbell recently left Belle and Sebastian, a band Jim and Greg reviewed last week, and her first move was asking Lanegan to join her for a duet album, Ballad of the Broken Seas. While in many of the songs above, the Beast seems to be preying on the poor innocent female, it is Isobel Campbell who is controlling most of the content on the record. Her voice is a sweet counterpart to Lanegan's low, masculine rumble, but she was the songwriter and the producer. Both Jim and Greg give her efforts a "Buy It" rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 13
Other People's LivesOther People's Lives available on iTunes

Ray Davies Other People's Lives

The first album up for review this week is Other People's Lives by former Kinks frontman Ray Davies. This is Davies‘ first solo album, and he seems to be returning to some of his original themes. Many of Davies’ previous songs, including Jim's recent DIJ pick, captured how it feels to be an outsider. Now, as a British rocker living in New Orleans, Davies is writing about those feelings again. The critics are split on their opinions of the album. Jim believes Davies' songwriting is as strong as ever and gives Other People's Lives a Buy It rating. Greg agrees, but doesn't think the sound of the record lives up to the lyrics. For him, it was Pro Tools run amuck and only a Burn It release.

JimGreg
Go to episode 12
The Life Pursuit (Bonus Tracks)The Life Pursuit available on iTunes

Belle and Sebastian The Life Pursuit

Scottish indie pop band Belle and Sebastian recently put out their seventh studio release, and Jim and Greg are in agreement about this one. On The Life Pursuit, the band turned to producer Tony Hoffer to break its mold. The result is a sound that is tougher, poppier, and not overly precious. Like Ray Davies, singer/songwriter Stuart Murdoch is a witty and often acerbic lyricist who wrestles with feeling like an outsider. He tackles issues of identity and religion, but wraps it up in an up-tempo, disco-inspired package. The result is a double Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 12
Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm NotWhatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not available on iTunes

The Arctic Monkeys Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not

One of the albums Jim and Greg review this week made so much news that they need to discuss it at the top of the show. The British band The Arctic Monkeys broke records this week when its debut album became the fastest selling in British chart history. While neither Jim nor Greg can fully comprehend this phenomenon, they both like the record. Jim gives the album a Buy It rating, but admits that The Arctic Monkeys are not nearly as amazing as the hype might have you believe. Greg likes lead singer Alex Turner's Streets-like approach to lyrics, but doesn't think the Arctic Monkeys are a great band yet. He gives Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not a Buy It too.

The Arctic Monkeys are not the first British band to face this kind of hype. There have been a number of UK bands who achieved rave reviews and huge success but were never able to break out across the pond. A look at lists compiled by British media outlets The Guardian and NME demonstrate this point. Bands like The Jam, The Stone Roses, The Libertines, Blur and The Smiths are up there with The Beatles and The Clash in the minds and hearts of British fans and critics, yet none of these groups achieved any major fame in the States. One theory given by Jim: Americans are discerning of imports ever since the first "British Invasion." Greg points out that there was a second British invasion in the '80s, and wonders if it is the very Britishness of some of these bands that prevent American fans from identifying. Or perhaps some tastes just don't translate.

JimGreg
Go to episode 10
Duets - The Final ChapterDuets: The Final Chapter available on iTunes

Notorious B.I.G. Duets: The Final Chapter

Next up Jim and Greg review the latest album by the Notorious B.I.G. They hesitate to say it is“by him,”however, being that the rapper died in 1997. Despite this fact, his music is still being released, and on this go-around, Duets: The Final Chapter, he was even paired with another deceased music icon. Biggie Smalls is the latest in a long line of musicians to continue to do big business after death. Other artists with posthumous releases and commercially successful legacies include Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Johnny Cash and Jimi Hendrix. Biggie's posthumous release is approaching platinum status, but our critics wonder if it really needed to be made. Duets is so chock full of all-star cameo that listeners may wonder who this record is about. For the sheer novelty of it, Duets gets a "Burn It" rating from Jim. For Greg, though, the songs are mediocre and the sentiment insincere. He gives it and the entire posthumous phenomenon a "Trash It."

JimGreg
Go to episode 10
The GreatestThe Greatest available on iTunes

Cat Power The Greatest

Both albums reviewed this week are independent label releases. The first is by Chan Marshall, better known as Cat Power. A much-hyped indie darling for some time now, Cat Power just released her fourth full length album, The Greatest, on the Matador label. Our critics ponder whether it was appropriately named. According to Jim—not at all. Frankly, he hates it. He has never been a Cat Power fan, however, and doesn‘t understand the appeal of Marshall’s albums nor her onstage antics. Greg agrees that The Greatest is not, in fact, the greatest. But he does not think it's a "Trash It" album. He believes it's worth listening to for the fantastic Memphis Rhythm Band's appearance alone. Steve Potts, Flick Hodges and Teenie Hodges, who worked with Al Green, provide a wonderful backing for Marshall's sultry voice. The result is a "Burn It" for Greg.

JimGreg
Go to episode 9
album art

Test Icicles For Screening Purposes Only

For Screening Purposes Only by Test Icicles is the next album up for review. This UK trio joined the Domino family along with successful acts like Franz Ferdinand, Clinic, Sons and Daughters and the most recent hype, The Arctic Monkeys. Many of these acts are considered the "New Wave of New Wave" — yet Test Icicles seem to be derivative of a slightly later period. For Greg, it's too much of a good thing. For Jim, though, it's too much of everything. For Screening Purposes Only gets a "Burn It" from Greg and a "Trash It" from Jim.

JimGreg
Go to episode 9
Rabbit Fur CoatRabbit Fur Coat available on iTunes

Jenny Lewis Rabbit Fur Coat

The review this week is of the solo album from rising indie pop star Jenny Lewis. Lewis is best known for her work with the bands Rilo Kiley and The Postal Service. (Oh, and true pop culture mavens might also remember a young Lewis from '80s movies like Troop Beverly Hills and The Wizard.) Rabbit Fur Coat is Lewis's first solo effort, and initially both Jim and Greg were skeptical. How can a born-and-bred Hollywood girl make beautiful alternative country pop? The answer stems from Lewis's voice, which Jim compares to that of Dusty Springfield, and the songs' complicated, self-aware lyrics. The album, released on Team Love Records (the boutique label run by Bright Eyes frontman Conor Oberst) gets a "Buy It" rating from both our critics.

JimGreg
Go to episode 8
Ain't Nobody Worryin'Ain't Nobody Worryin' available on iTunes

Anthony Hamilton Ain't Nobody Worryin'

Next up is a review of Ain‘t Nobody Worryin’, the new album from Anthony Hamilton. This R&B singer reminds both critics of classic vocalists like Bill Withers and Bobby Womack. While keeping his day job as a barber in in Charlotte, North Carolina, Hamilton began recording. He sang back-up for D'Angelo on his Voodoo our, and eventually caught the eye of mega-producer Jermaine Dupri during a Grammy performance honoring Stevie Wonder. While Greg initially objected to the lack of up-tempo songs, both he and Jim appreciate the quality of the songwriting and the substance of the lyrics. Therefore Ain‘t Nobody Worryin’ gets two Buy It ratings.

JimGreg
Go to episode 7
From a Compound EyeA Compound Eye available on iTunes

Robert Pollard A Compound Eye

Next up is a review of A Compound Eye, the first solo release from ex-Guided By Voices frontman Robert Pollard — and our hosts couldn't disagree more. Sound Opinions fans know that, like the spirited debates about Bruce Springsteen, the GBV/Pollard dispute is almost as old as time. Jim starts off by expressing his wish that Pollard took more time to polish the tracks on this album. Greg disagrees, and finds the lack of polish part the music's lo-fi charm. Jim also thinks that Pollard is, as always, too prolific of a songwriter, and that over half of the album is just“self-indulgent clatter.”Thus, it's a Trash It. For Greg, though, A Compound Eye is a beautiful, eclectic double album rolled into one. He recommends fans go out and Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 7
First Impressions of EarthFirst Impressions of Earth available on iTunes

the Strokes First Impressions of Earth

Following the interview, our hosts review First Impressions of Earth. Both Jim and Greg agree that Kahne succeeded in stretching The Strokes out. However, Greg thinks there is a lot of filler on the album. For him, it's an experiment that did not work, making First Impressions only a Burn It. Jim, on the other hand, believes it's good (though not great) from beginning to end. He thinks it might even be better than the previous release, Room on Fire, and recommends it as a Buy It, even for Barry Manilow fans.

JimGreg
Go to episode 6
The Breakthrough (Bonus Tracks)Mary available on iTunes

Mary J. Blige Mary

Jim and Greg next review the latest release from reigning R&B queen Mary J. Blige. Blige is an artist who has been put through the ringer, but things were a lot more stable during the making of The Breakthrough. This didn‘t affect Blige’s sound, however, which is as gritty as ever. While Jim and Greg prefer the singer live, they agree that this is Blige's best album since 1992's What's the 411. (Sound Opinions H.Q. also recommends her 1999 release Mary). Our hosts are especially impressed with how Blige manages not to be overshined by the presence of so many star producers like Dr. Dre, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Will.i.am, nor star guests like Jay-Z, Raphael Saadiq and Nina Simone (from the beyond). Fellow divas Beyoncé Knowles and Alicia Keys can't always say that.

JimGreg
Go to episode 6