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M.I.A, The Quarter After, Boys Night Out, Flipsyde, Hootie & the Blowfish

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M.I.A. Arular ****

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M.I.A. sounds like she studied from the feet of Peaches for her teaches on drumbeats and infectious slangy rhymes and nastiness, then hung out with Northern State and Fannypack, who taught her the kitschy street appeal of gross simplicity. M.I.A.’s lyrical rhythm switches between Jamaican groove and inflections to smooth R&B, and her lyrics bobble between anti-guerrilla warfare commentary and sweaty club grinding. But most of the time they don’t mean a damned thing'i.e., “London calling/ Speak the slang now/Boys say What-Gwan/ Girls say wha-what/ Slam Galang galang/ Ga la ga la ga la.” (Interscope)

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THE QUARTER AFTER The Quarter After ***

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Some of The Quarter After’s songs really are classic, smoldering Brit-rock/’60s psychedelic burners, like “Too Much to Think About,” walking in the best traditions of the Mamas & Papas, Hair, the Brian Jonestown Massacre (with whom they just completed a U.S. tour), the Beatles (whom you’d swear they ripped off in “One Trip Later”) and Oasis. Too bad that, live, The Quarter After are about as exciting as watching tulips grow. (Bird Song)

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BOYS NIGHT OUT Trainwreck **.5

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Finding out Boys Night Out is “one of Alternative Press’ Most Anticipated Releases of 2005” will naturally make you want to run away screaming, but Trainwreck’s chilling first track'a psychiatrist’s ruminations'begs a second chance. BNO’s mathy Sparta moments nearly redeem them, but the Jimmy Eat Chemical Romance leanings foster resentment against their mental-patient concept album as the comfortable, glamorized, removed fantasies of rich suburban emo fashionistas. (Ferret)

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FLIPSYDE We the People *

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Your initial reaction upon listening to the first track of We the People might be to lob it in the nearest trash receptacle, and that reaction is wise. Flipsyde is a watered-down version of P.O.D. (yep'Flipsyde proves that P.O.D. can be watered down), Crazytown and Linkin Park with their rap/nü-metal hybrid and regurgitated social commentary that will make about as much difference in the world as the American public school system. (Interscope)

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HOOTIE & THE BLOWFISH Looking for Lucky *

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To be absolutely fair, Looking for Lucky isn’t as bad as say, getting your nails ripped out by the Iraqi counterinsurgency while being dangled naked over a vat of sizzling oil. Now that all the nice things have been said, here are the bad things about Lucky: Everything. If Hootie’s trapped-in-1995 alt-rock slab of mealy grotesquitude doesn’t leave you beating your head against the wall of the nearest nuthouse, then you’re an android. (Vanguard)

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About The Author

Rebecca Vernon

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