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Tobin Sprout, Jason Fowler, Black Keys, White Zombie and Mojo Nixon and Jello Biafra

Tobin Sprout – Carnival Boy

In my mind, Tobin Sprout will always be inextricably linked with Guided By Voices, as cohort in Robert Pollard’s early efforts. But we mustn’t forget that he’s a brilliant songwriter in his own right, and his solo records have always been excellent. Carnival Boy is no exception, of course. It contains all the hallmarks of that college rock sound, and the messy-yet-glossy- GBV shimmer, while strongly maintaining his own identity too. Delicious.

Jason Fowler – Temporary Ground

Jason Fowler can’t seem to make up his mind on this record, but this is far from being a problem. In fact, it is its strength. We get true, full-on pop radio hits, gentle ballads, and instrumental forays that range from his own, more contemporary compositions to the Tennessee Waltz. You’d think that, with this mix of stylistic attempts, this record shouldn’t work. But it does work. Oh my, it certainly does. Recommended.

Black Keys – Attack And Release

This duo has a huge sound. It is its own life force, steeped in that gritty, messy deep Delta stomp as much as it is rock, and I love it. There is no secret as to why these guys had releases on the mighty Fat Possum Records. Attack And Release takes that sound and branches out a bit, with other instruments lifting the proceedings to new levels. It is more polished than earlier records as a result, so you can take that how you will. This is a monster of an album.

White Zombie – Let Sleeping Corpses Lie

This set showcases the ambitious and changing sound of White Zombie, collecting pretty much everything they ever released onto four CDs (and a DVD of videos and live stuff). The range is broad – comparing Gentleman Junkie’s straight-on punk (CD1) to More Human Than Human’s grinding electro-metal (CD4) sounds like two different bands. But from punk to industrial rawk, White Zombie grew in nothing but good directions, never compromising, and they always remained louder than hell. This is too much for one sitting, but it’s a treasure trove for fans and newbies alike.

Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon – Prairie Home Invasion

You wouldn’t think so without hearing it, but it turns out that Mojo Nixon’s quirky, often humourous country-rock swing is a perfect vehicle for Jello Biafra’s politically and socially charged rants. Listening to this record, I didn’t know whether to jump around the room or sit still and listen closely to everything being said. Turns out it’s possible to do both. There’s so much packed into this record, it outweighs most of the crap you’ve heard lately.

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