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"Being handsome means never having to say you're sorry," or so say
the liner notes of Handsome Boy Modeling School's latest, White
And just as the pretty people get all the breaks, the talented musicians
get all the hooks. The Modeling School's über instructors, Prince
Paul and Dan "The Automator" Nakamura working under
the pseudonyms Chest Rockwell and Nathaniel Merriweather, respectively
have mined an album's worth in collaboration with some of the
finest musicians in rock and hip hop.
So is it possible that one of the most rock and roll releases of
the year is... a hip-hop album?
While it might be a stretch to make such proclamations, Prince Paul
and the Automator aren't above such hyperbole on booming tracks like
"Rock and Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This) Part 2." And like the
skittish magic Prince Paul produced on De La Soul's 3 Feet High and
Rising and the Automator brought to Kool Keith's Dr. Octagonecologyst,
they sprinkle pixie dust over the soulful delivery of Cat Power on
"I've Been Thinking," as nimbly as they emphasize the folky groove
of Jack Johnson's guitar on "Breakdown."
The unfortunate consequence of making a classic like 3 Feet or Dr. Octagonecologyst is that it has been difficult for De La Soul and Kool Keith to top it; the upside is that these were just the first swings of producers Prince Paul and Dan the Automator's extended hit list. Gillian Titus (Posted 11/19/04)
It must be the rain. How else to explain the exquisite "twee
mopiness" of such Scottish indie-pop acts as Belle and Sebastian,
Aztec Camera, and the Trashcan Sinatras?
The Irvine, Scotland-based Sinatras' latest, the perfectly titled Weightlifting, is a mesmerizing follow-up to its 1996 release, A Happy Pocket, and proof that there is a direct correlation between bad weather and finely crafted music.
The band's harmonies elevate you to another realm. The perfect
mix of acoustic guitars, strings, and horns it's baffling
how these guys have managed to stay under the radar of popular music
since their inception in 1987.
Since the band's first release in 1990, it has made four albums
on four labels, which could explain the lengthy periods between recordings.
However, the longer wait has made the payoff sweeter when listening
to such George Harrison-tinged tracks like "All the Dark Horses"
and the title cut.
The highlights include the Beatle-esque swirling pop exhilaration
of "Usually" and the bruises-and-all breakup ballad "Leave
Me Alone." There are no bloated b-sides, no filler. Every song
sounds like a single, and after eight years, you would assume there
would be a few.
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