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His Hands
Candi Staton
An out-of-nowhere comeback from a soul singer who rose to fame in the disco era.

Sarah [Rating: 9]: The kids hear Candi Staton’s near-tears voice and feel bad. Too young to understand that men are the cause of Candi’s heartache, they’re convinced that a boyfriend, perhaps the unmarried school janitor, would cheer her up.
John [Rating: 7]: Smokin’ soul in the finest tradition! Staton sounds as young as Joss Stone and, of course, a lot better.
Katherine [Rating: 6]: I am abashed to confide that I had never heard her, or even heard of her, till this record, but it struck me as the kind of thing that would be perfect for nursing breakup sorrows, especially the opening track, “You Don’t Have Far to Go,” which kills.





Living With War
Neil Young
The case against Bush, with guitars.

Sarah [Rating: 8]: “Can George Bush arrest us for listening to this?” one boy asks. The lyrics are the focus, but it’s a solid rock album too.
John [Rating: 7]: Lands with all the subtlety and nuance of a Paul Krugman column. Not even protest music should be this heavily didactic, and Young’s reedy voice sometimes seems unsuited for making such orotund pronouncements. Still, the sentiment that fuels them is spot on. Listen, and seethe in righteous indignation!
Katherine [Rating: 5]: You can just picture Young playing these songs with his wild eyes and swirling hair, as though he travels with his own private wind machine. But the titles alone tell the deadly literal tale: “Shock and Awe,” “Let’s Impeach the President” (“for lying,” the lyrics clarify—thanks).





Ringleader of the Tormentors
Morrissey
The onetime Smiths front man’s latest assembly of morose ballads.

Katherine [Rating: 8]: Love has apparently paid a visitation to Moz, and the clouds are a tad less gray, though couplets like “Pasolini is me / Accattone you’ll be” still provide the damp but pleasurable jolt we’ve come to expect from him.
Sarah [Rating: 5]: I think it would be unethical to play songs like “I’ll Never Be Anybody’s Hero” for 9-year-olds. And the melodies and guitars are flat to me (I can’t get over Johnny Marr’s absence, no matter how long it’s been).
John [Rating: 3]: Oh, good grief! Tracks on this disc include “Dear God Please Help Me,” “You Have Killed Me,” “The Father Who Must Be Killed,” and “Life Is a Pigsty”—that last of which features ostentatiously weepy lyrics actually set to a backdrop of drizzling rain.





Stadium Arcadium
Red Hot Chili Peppers
It’s a stadium arcadium, people. What else do you need to know?

John [Rating: 6]: Almost all of the songs on this album come in the band’s signature funk-punk style, which no longer seems particularly novel. Incidentally, last summer I briefly dated a woman who said she used to make out with Anthony Kiedis. Disgusting.
Sarah [Rating: 5]: By the middle of the second CD, the kids are frustrated and unhappy, claiming that the album is preventing them from remembering how to do division. “Is this ever going to end?” one child pleads.
Katherine [Rating: 4]: A double album (one side “Jupiter,” the other “Mars” . . . cosmic). The best compliment I can pay these now-middle-aged former sock-wearers is that apparently teenagers still want to have sex to their music.





My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (2006 version)
Brian Eno & David Byrne
A remastered version of the spacey 1981 collaboration between the two post-punkers.

Katherine [Rating: 10]: Moby owes some serious royalties. Byrne and Eno created groovy experimental sound collages with audio snippets over a quarter-century ago, but their lingering influence is everywhere.
Sarah [Rating: 4]: I put this album on figuring it will be innocuous background music, but the kids start snickering. When I ask what they find funny, they are unanimous: There’s nothing interesting to them about this music. “I could be better than this,” says one. And despite this record’s oft-referred-to influence, I agree. I like the samples better on their own than the new songs they help form.
John [Rating: 1]: Shit sandwich.


Related:

  • Archive: “Music Features
  • From the Jul 20, 2006 issue of New York
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