Sounds of silence

Diplo, Florida

Nearly every piece of press I’ve read concerning this album has made to some degree the same asinine claim: “Move over DJ Shadow, move over RJD2. Diplo is the new kid in town.” I don’t understand what could be accomplished by undercutting those pioneers who are ultimately responsible for creating the niche this album so comfortably fits. Diplo, one half of the ass-bouncing DJ combo Hollertronix, took a step back from the bump to make a moody and beautiful instrumental album as homage to his home state of Florida, true. And he does use guest vocalists Martina Topley (of Tricky fame) and P.E.A.C.E, incredibly well, but “Florida” relies too heavily on canny-sounding beats, even going so far to interject dreaded 505 handclap effects without even a twinge of ironic flare.

Marilyn Manson, Lest We Forget

Ah, a Marilyn Manson greatest hits. I feel spookier already. And it’s got a cover of Depeche Mode’s classic “Personal Jesus.” Who’d have guessed back in ’96 that MM would fall so hard? Wait, I did! Ha ha.

Har Mar Superstar, The Handler

Sometimes being in on the joke is detrimental to actually enjoying music. With The Handler, Har Mar has made a joke so beautiful it pains me to turn it on. How else am I supposed to feel about a frumpy (read: fat) Midwestern man with a terrible haircut singing some of the most amazing and sexual disco-soul this side of Justin Timberlake? Much like Chromeo, Har Mar, takes the corny genre of 80’s synth and filters it through hipster irony allowing us to enjoy it for every saccharin-dripping moment. Har Mar just takes it too far.

Chromeo keeps their iced-out thug irreverence at the forefront of their music, making each track a club thumper. Har Mar creates a phony persona, a sex star, whom he drags along with each song, concentrating on the show and ignoring the song. It’s a good after 1 a.m. party album and there are standout tracks, “DUI” and “Alone Again (Naturally),” where despite any Lionel Ritchie moments, the tracks still bump. But I can’t listen to this without worrying I’m the butt of the joke for LOVING IT SO MUCH!

R.E.M., Around the Sun

I can’t tell what I’m hearing on this album, a death rattle or a death wheeze.

Kenny Wayne Shepherd, The Place You’re In

Oh, my how you’ve grown, Kenny. You’ve gone from whitey blues prodigy to circa ’76 Aerosmith, just like that. I love this album so much I’m going to load my pipe, get in the El Camino and roll through the Kansas fields, rocking out, digging your solos and GOD BLESSING AMERICA! Dude, the Kid Rock guest spot kicks ass! Kick ass.