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Jukebox

Three citizen critics* offer competing takes on noteworthy recent albums. *Special artist edition.

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RATING SYSTEM
1 = Skip it
5 = Try it
10 = Buy it
Ariel the Architect
Founded interior-design and architecture firm Ashe + Leandro. She grew up listening to classic songwriters like Bob Dylan and Van Morrison; she currently loves country: Her last concert was Brad Paisley at Madison Square Garden.
Bryan the Photographer
His first concert was Johnny Cash at the Saratoga Race Course, near where he grew up. Bryan would like you to know that, despite his feelings about the albums here, he loves music, especially Chuck Berry, Bob Marley, Bad Brains, and Bob Dylan. His last concert was PiL at Terminal 5.
Li the Painter
The West Village–based artist likes to play bass in front of her paintings because she finds the heavy chords inspiring. She listens to old-school artsy rock like the New York Dolls and the Velvet Underground. The last song she played on her iPod was by the Clash.
Abe Vigoda Crush The Los Angeles quartet, with their synth-y blend of tropical percussion and stoner dance music, is being heralded as one of rock’s most promising acts. This is their fourth album. The record reminds me of Echo & the Bunnymen. I have no idea if this band is cool, but it makes me feel like I know something other people don’t. And I like feeling in the know, even if I’m not. Rating: 7Best track:
“Sequins”
I’m hearing a little too much Roxy Music, New Order, and Sonic Youth. I also think the name is loathsome. These guys could not hold a candle to the spirit and vulnerability of the real Abe Vigoda! I wish Crush was a recording of Abe reading his autobiography. Rating: 5Best track:
“Repeating Angel”
Sounds like a bad imitation of the Cure. I listened to it while doing laundry, but it would also suit any other profoundly unexciting task, like doing your taxes. Rating: 1Best track:
“November”
Gucci Mane The Appeal: Georgia’s Most Wanted The Atlanta-based rapper has called this, his first official post-jail release, a “masterpiece.” He certainly recruited enough boldface names (the Neptunes, Swizz Beatz, Nicki Minaj, and Bun B) to make good on that boast. He just got out of jail, and I’m gonna offend him in public? He literally says “Gucci” in every song. I did like the lyric “I’m so fucking paid I just bought the dollar sign,” in “Dollar Sign.” It made me want to go back to Marquee in 2003. Is Marquee even open anymore? [Yes.] Rating: 5Best track:
“Making Love to the Money”
Listening to Gucci describe how he likes only new things is ridiculous. He likes new socks? Riveting! Songs about worshipping money don’t interest me. This is pretty awful, but it might work as the soundtrack to a comic-book movie. Rating: 2Best track:
“Weirdo”
The album made me feel like when I used to get pushed up against the wall for my lunch money in junior high in Queens. When I listened to it, I locked my front door. It will probably be a huge hit. Rating: 1Best track:
None
No AgeEverything in BetweenTheir 2008 sophomore album, Nouns, was widely adored for its scuzzy blend of cerebral sampling and joyfully adolescent noise. This is the L.A.-based duo’s hotly anticipated follow-up. “Valley Hump Crash” is the kind of song that drowns out conversation at a bar, in a good way. “Life Prowler” is also interesting. I like the lead singer’s voice (and he looks cute). I also love how they used the sound effects from the Fruit Ninja app in “Dusted.” Seriously, this album is kind of a blast. Rating: 7Best track:
“Glitter”
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Thurston Moore should be flattered to death. This is a straight Daydream Nation rip-off. Rating: 2Best track:
“Katerpillar”
Matchbox Twenty meets the Ramones. Some of the songs, like “Life Prowler,” were kind of drab and monotone, but the good ones made me feel like I was back at CBGB. It’s a decent soundtrack for walking the dog. Rating: 5Best track:
“Katerpillar”
Neil YoungLe NoiseThere’s no band on this, mostly just Young accompanying himself on various guitars, while producer Daniel Lanois (Bob Dylan, U2) applies his considerable noise-manipulation skills. I’m Neil’s No. 1 fan (“Unknown Legend,” sigh), but I could barely make it through this. I miss the band and the acoustic guitar. “Walk With Me” scared me when I played it. Listen to this album if you’re mad and depressed. Or want to be mad, then depressed, then mad again. Rating: 4Best track:
“Peaceful Valley Boulevard”
Let’s rename this Le Garbage or Le Snooze. The album reminded me of hearing my friends playing guitar with a little Peavey amp in their upstairs bedroom—just self-indulgent sonic barkings.Rating: 1Best track:
None
I liked this. It brought me right back to the seventies. You can always count on Young to be an abstract poet. Listening to the record made me want to smoke pot and dance naked (I just burned some incense instead). Rating: 10Best track:
“Love and War”
Nellie McKay Home Sweet Mobile HomeThe eccentric singer’s previous, critically praised album, Normal As Blueberry Pie, was all Doris Day covers. This time, she jumps from reggae to doo-wop to swing to jazz—sometimes in the same song. She’s a blonde, which is not what I was expecting. That’s unrelated, though, to the fact that I didn’t like this. It felt like a soundtrack to a bad musical. Like Paul Simon’s The Capeman but without Paul Simon. Rating: 1Best track:
“Bruise on the Sky”
It sounds like a revue without heart. And McKay had the nerve to name a song after Charles Mingus’s autobiography, “Beneath the Underdog”?! What a joke. Rating: 1Best track:
None
She’s trying too hard to please everybody. It made me feel like I was on a cruise ship to Nassau. I needed a few margaritas to get through it. Rating: 1Best track:
“The Portal”

Compiled by Lizzy Goodman. Illustrations by Jo Ratcliffe.
Photographs: Dan Monick (Abe Vigoda); Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records (Gucci Mane); Todd Cole/Courtesy of Sup Pop Records (No Age); Adam CK Vollick/Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records (Young); Rick Gonzalez/Courtesy of Universal Music Group (McKay)


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