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03 May 2006

Barbara Morgenstern, The Grass Is Always Greener (Monika Enterprise) Rating: 7
One of the lovely byproducts of reviewing CDs is that you, every once in a while, stumble upon a record that you would never have normally found but that really blows you away. The Grass is Always Greener is just such a record. Barbara Morgenstern has fashioned 12 pieces of music that are nothing short of beautiful. The album is an unusual mixture of Autobahn-era Kraftwerk and Joni Mitchell. The vocal, piano and synth melodies are spun together creating a dynamic web of sound swaying and shifting in the wind. There are distinct moments (as in "Juist") when the soundscape emulates a John Carpenter score. These moments are eerie and make the beautiful pop tune that follows all the more delectable a morsel. Morgenstern chooses to sing most of the lyrics in German with often only the chorus in English but this in no way detracts from the album. There are a few nearly cheesy '80s moments but as soon as they are over they are forgotten (for example the excellent "The Operator" does sound a little like A-Ha if you turn the lights off). Anyway, the '80s are hip these days and they were never this stylish. [Amazon | Insound]
      — Marc A. Price
"The Operator": [MP3]
"Alles Was Lebt Bewegt Sich": [MP3 clip]
"Quality Time": [MP3 clip]
"Brautlied": [MP3]
multiple songs: [MySpace]

Ruby Tombs, Those Who Can't (Art Goes Pop) Rating: 8
There is nothing that is not attractive about this package. The cover art, the flip side art, the name of the band and, oh yeah, the two songs. They're all great. Sounding like Huggy Bear and Devo having a knife fight in an abandoned cavernous warehouse, the band is scary and paranoid in a way that makes me think perhaps fewer groups should try so hard to be liked. Snarling does indeed hold a place dear to my heart (especially accompanied by a great pop hook) and Ruby Tombs (William Rook, Bobby Sparrow, LauraLee) could teach a course on the subject. The "A" Side, "Those Who Can't", will have you wondering if you accidentally took some speed with your coffee and the "B" side will close the "I'm definitely buying the debut full-length" deal that first song intimated at. If you're reading this, suffice it to say you shouldn't waste another minute... go on and order this. NOW! [Amazon | Insound]
      — Jill LaBrack

Shilts, HeadBoppin (ARTizen Music Group) Rating: 7
Paul "Shilts" Weimer is funky. From the time he spent globetrotting and wowing audiences with British bands Breathe and Down to the Bone, he's built a solid reputation as a saxophonist, keyboardist, and bandleader. He's also toured with Brit mates the Brand New Heavies and Jamiroquai. In 2001, Shilts released See What Happens, playing keyboards in addition to alto and tenor sax. His latest, HeadBoppin, is produced by trumpet maestro Rick Braun. HeadBoppin is a gloriously energetic set of songs driven by horns and plenty of bass. Shilts is masterful at making his sax "sing" lead. The arrangements are clever, weaving elements in and out, like when the bass drops out of "Break the Mold" at about 1:48 and then, around 2:08, the bass bops back in to complement the bridge. Other standout tracks are "Look What's Happened", the shimmering piano of "Good Evans", "Got Love" and its smoky vocals from Siedah Garrett, the slower grind of "Say Something", and "Mrs. Magic". On the downside, these compositions are so tightly performed they tend to sound indistinguishable. If you like the Brand New Heavies, you'll enjoy HeadBoppin. Much of the material resembles the Heavies to the point that you'll wonder if N'Dea Davenport will show up for a guest spot. She won't. But that's all right. HeadBoppin is a strong and enjoyable effort on its own. [Amazon | Insound]
      — Quentin B. Huff
Shilts talks about music from HeadBoppin: [MP3]

Pitbull, Money Is Still a Major Issue (TVT) Rating: 2
Money must still be a major issue for Pitbull if this CD even exists. 2004's M.I.A.M.I. found Pitbull coming out of the stables with a chip on his shoulder; the album was hot on the radio and felt inspired all the same, and was full of anthemic Southern rap that could hang with the big boys. Ironically, Money Is Still a Major Issue almost ruins everything M.I.A.M.I. accomplished: it dilutes the hits with bad remixes, takes Pitbull's guest spots completely out of context, and -- though I realize it's a compilation -- has no flow whatsoever. Worse than bad, Money Is Still a Major Issue is simply unnecessary. [Amazon | Insound]
      — Zack Adcock

.: posted by Editor 8:50 AM

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In bold are PopMatters Picks, the best in new music.
Abe Duque
be your own PET
Big Sandy & His Fly-Rite Boys
The Bottle Rockets
The Brand New Heavies
Johnny Cash
Slaid Cleaves
Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint
Cut Chemist
Miles Davis
Dinosaur Jr.
Dr. Octagon
Alejandro Escovedo
Fatboy Slim
Four Tet
The Handsome Family
Matthew Herbert
Ise Lyfe
Jefferson Airplane
Lord Jamar
Mission of Burma
Mr. Lif
Mojave 3
Allison Moorer
Paul Oakenfold
Grant-Lee Phillips
The Procussions
Corinne Bailey Rae
Ramblin' Jack Elliott
Julie Roberts
Diana Ross
7L & Esoteric
Alice Smith
Snow Patrol
Sonic Youth
Soul Asylum
Sound Team
Regina Spektor
Sufjan Stevens
Matthew Sweet
Rhonda Vincent
Thom Yorke

Baby Dayliner
The BellRays
Cat Power
The Clientele + Great Lakes
The Coup + T-Kash
Mike Doughty Band
Download Festival 2006
Fiery Furnaces + Man Man
The Futureheads
The Handsome Family
High Sierra Music Festival
Billy Idol
Bettye Lavette
Love Parade
Nine Inch Nails + Bauhaus
Sonic Youth
Splendour in the Grass 2006
The Streets
Sunset Rubdown

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