If there's one thing that all Cardinal Arts writers have in common, it's the stack of promotional CDs that they've swiped from the office at one point or another. Sometimes we took them with the best intentions of actually reviewing them; other times simply hoping that nobody would notice. I used to be able to get away with this, but now my self-righteous editor is my self-righteous roommate, and since he's always in my room borrowing a Fountains of Wayne CD or something, he keeps tabs, and far be it from me to say anything about the huge stack of unreviewed'sometimes unopened'discs next to his bed. But I digress.
It's my last column of the year, and time to clear my conscience, and please try to overlook the similarities between this column and the lame Isthmus music page every week.
Tweet'Southern Hummingbird (Elektra): Produced by Missy Elliot and Timbaland, this album tries really hard to be dope, but it's not quite there. \Oops (Oh My)"" is certainly one of the more infectious jams about self-gratification in recent memory, but the rest of Southern Hummingbird is pedestrian nu-soul. Tweet's like Angie Stone without the energy or Alicia Keys without the voice.
Lambchop'Tools In The Dryer (Merge): For some reason, people call Lambchop alt-country, even though they sound much more like '70s Philadelphia soul. This collection of ""A-sides, B-sides, live tracks and remixes"" would be a treasure trove for diehard Lambchop fans, but I don't think there are any of those. There is absolutely nothing cohesive about this disc, which is somewhat charming, but buy 2000's Nixon and 2002's Is A Woman first to make sure you like Kurt Wagner enough to purchase his throwaways.
N.E.R.D.'In Search Of (Virgin): The only people more tiresome than staunch indie-rockers are intelligent hip-hop fans who overanalyze everything, especially albums like this one. Squash it'In Search Of is the illness. Rerecorded for the stateside release with a live rock quartet, the result is far more rock than rap. The drumwork of Eric Fawcett is remarkable-""Lapdance"" pounds now instead of slinking, and after a cry of ""fuckin' poseurs,"" ""Rock Star"" thrashes itself through its four minutes with abandon and the infectious ballads ""Bobby James"" and ""Provider"" provide a nice balance. If Pharrell's voice annoys you, you won't like it, but I imagine everyone else will.
Pine Valley Cosmonauts'The Executioner's Last Song (Bloodshot): Talk about biting the hand that feeds you: Here's a compilation of songs about being hung and disemboweled, the proceeds of which benefit the Illinois Death Penalty Moratorium Project. Regardless, it's a fine album with contributions from the cream of today's country scene, including Neko Case, Steve Earle, Kelly Hogan and Rosie Flores. Despite'or perhaps because of'being composed of members of the Waco Brothers, Devil in a Woodpile and Mekons, the Cosmonauts do an uncanny impression of a ragtag mid century Nashville session band. If you inherit a bar on Broadway and only bring one album, this is the one, because repeated listens ensure heavy drinking. Cheers!