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JILL SCOTT Beautifully Human ****

Did you know Jill Scott appeared on Sesame Street for its 33rd anniversary? That’s hot. Kickin’ it old-school R& , Jill combines the class and soul of ’70s divas like Diana Ross with ’50s jazz and modern smooth-as-soy-milk softcore soul like Sade and toned-down Lauryn Hill. Her voice is creamy-buttery delicious, glowing like your significant other’s face mid-kiss. She creates a space that you might want to live in forever; where busts of Barry White reign supreme, Shaft is projected continuously on the wall, and vanilla incense burns in the searing candlelight. (Hidden Beach)

YOUNG BUCK Straight Outta Ca$hville ****

This is one of the best mainstream rap albums released in the last couple years. Not only are the beats virile as hell, Young Buck’s distinctive, expressive, convincing voice stands out from a miasma of wannabes. He struggled for years on the streets before getting his opportunity: A collaboration with 50 Cent (Ca$hville’s executive producer), pre-fame explosion. Obsession with riches aside, Young Buck’s not just another rapper full of empty posturing. (G Unit/Interscope)

LAMB OF GOD Ashes of the Wake ****

If Lamb of God deigned to throw down with other MTV-music-video-level metal acts marketed to under-21ers Kittie, Shadows Fall and In Flames, there would be no competition. Their merciless, technically brilliant, genuinely angstful and intimidating crunch prog-metal grenade would instantly launch them to champion notoriety. Ashes of the Wake takes As the Palaces Burn a step further, sharpening Lamb of God’s apocalyptic, world-reaping machete to a deadly and gleaming point. (Epic)


Taking traditional piano ballads a step further by layering them with violins, ’80s synth and intricate, stuttering drum parts, singer/songwriter Charlotte Martin is miles ahead of her contemporaries, especially that hype-rotted Lennon. Martin’s voice is clear and multi-faceted as a prism; her songwriting, heavily reminiscent of Tori Amos, drips giftedness. However, her bio awkwardly comparing her to The Cure is annoying beyond belief. Something about her still says “poser.” (RCA)

PAPA ROACH Getting Away With Murder **

Y’know, it’s all kind of hazy now, but wasn’t Papa Roach nü-metal when they started? They’ve completely Thursday-ed themselves, or at least tried to. Now they overflow with a giggle-inducing cornucopia of emo/screamo influences. And earlier this year, they played SXSW, a festival usually reserved for showcasing up-and-coming bands, in an embarrassing unmistakable career move. As far as emo goes, it’s not completely vomitous—but their lack of integrity is. (Geffen)

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Rebecca Vernon

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