On record :: KJHK new music reviews

Yerba Buena Orquesta
"President Alien" (Razor & Tie)

Yerba Buena's "President Alien" is an intriguing powerhouse that brings a needed freshness that has been lacking in contemporary, Latin-flavored releases. Yerba Buena transcends genre labels by drawing on a plethora of influence from organic percussion rooted in various genres of Latin, driving salsa piano riffs, deep disco-funk bass lines, stacked horn lines laying over syncopated afro-beat guitar, and even laying into some hip-hop beats. Yerba Buena maintains the capabilities of crossing over into contemporary sensibilities with infectious grooves undeniably aimed at the dance floor, catchy hooks, and deep roots in traditional Latin music. Though it's in the same vein as Amigos Invisibles, Ozomatli, and Orishas, this record digs deeper into the history and still sounds fresh in the 21st century. President Alien is a time bomb waiting to explode -- put it on at a gathering and watch the mood shift into high energy.
Joe "Cheo" McGuire
Latin Lab 4-7 p.m. Saturdays

Dub Narcotic Sound System
"Degenerate Introduction" (K Records)

Although this is Dub Narcotic Sound System's first album in roughly five years, they haven't necessarily grown up on this record. Grown out is more like it. As expected, DNSS mixes anything and everything they can and pulls it off pretty well. It's funk, reggae, rock, hip-hop, punk, dub, indie, you name it all rolled into one seemingly effortlessly consistent record. Songs like "F*Me Up" and "Joint Joint" are fun and quirky while "Dub Narcotic Groove" and "Mate's Revenge" offer more jazzy beats. And Calvin Johnson provides the right vocals groaning through each song without interrupting what this record is really about: expansion of style.
Courtney Ryan
Courtney on the Cracklebox, 4-6 am Saturdays

Greg Davis
"Curling Pond Woods" (Carpark)

Like his excellent debut "Arbor," Greg Davis mixes acoustic guitar with lush electronic elements on his second album, "Curling Pond Woods." Pastoral and pretty, the album features Davis's instrumentals as well as two covers that bear his distinctive mark. The first is a fantastic cover of the Beach Boys' "At My Window," which complements the choral homage that started the album. The album ends with a Davis' take on "Air" by the Incredible String Band, which makes plain the album's psych-folk ideal. While "Arbor" had a wandering, random quality to it, "Curling Pond Wood" shows more song-oriented development that carves out a distinctive sound for Davis.
Ryan Patrick
New music rotation, 2-4 p.m. Thursdays

"Now, Soon, Someday [EP]" (Warp Records)

Ex Anti-pop Consortium member Beans follows up his avant garde electro hip-hop debut for Warp records with an EP of similar substance. "Now, Soon, Someday" shows little evolution from his 2003 solo debut "Tomorrow Right Now," with Beans' drum programming and synthwork still focused on the old school futuristic sound. Yet the production emphasis has shifted from cheesiness and scarcity to more intricate and funky compositions. Tracks like "Win or Lose You Lose" show Beans at the top of his game, with the clever chorus "he bring heat to the beat/ wearing a fleece in a sauna" coupled with a beat containing one of the most decimating and catchy bass lines in recent memory. The EP also contains two wholly uninspired remixes from Prefuse73 and El-P, which is nothing short of disappointing coming from undoubtedly two of hip-hop's most talented, boundary-pushing producers.
Kyle Garrison
Courtesy Flush, 6-7pm Fridays

Jason Collett
"Motor Motel Love Songs" (Arts & Crafts)

Let's get one thing straight: Jason Collett's "Motor Motel Love Songs" is neither innovative nor groundbreaking. However, while he hasn't rewritten any rules of the game, Collett has crafted a fine album, one that any fan of alternative country-rock can appreciate and enjoy. When listening to the album, it's almost possible to envision Collett playing behind chicken wire on a tiny stage in a smoky bar just outside his hometown Toronto. His ballads are depressing, his rockers rocking, and his voice is always plaintive. Granted, there are probably better alt-country albums out there, but "Motor Motel Love Songs'" is quite pleasant.
Kevin Hess
New music rotation, 4-6am Mondays

Xiu Xiu
"Fabulous Muscles" (5 Rue)

With their unique sense of balance between bedroom pop and the "quiet is the new loud" techniques, Xiu Xiu knows how to create art. The band's "A Promise" was arguably the most beautiful record of 2003. This year's "Fabulous Muscles" retains that album's dramatic impact and lyrical tears, while making it slightly more accessible than the two past efforts.
Chris Knudsen
2-4am Friday Mornings


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