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New releases from X27, Femi Kuti and Jennifer Gentle

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X27 Antilove ***
X27’s music is dirty in a way that only doing a line with a rolled-up Seventeen magazine page could possibly match. Part dance-rock, part noise, but mostly garage-punk, this Chicago threesome churns it out thick, whatever it is. Vocally schizophrenic and musically flirtatious Carmen X will undoubtedly evoke Kim Gordon/Karen O comparisons for her most reserved/manic moments (respectively), but even those are scapegoats that overshadow her individual voice and presence (best heard if you turn it up loud enough to make your ears bleed). Once in awhile, the band strays too far into early-’90s territory (maybe thanks to Nirvana-producer Steve Albini’s signature touch), resulting in boring sludge that sacrifices rocking for pure volume. But after being pummeled with X27’s standout songs “Inside-out World” and the title track with their naughty/nice natures, you’ll wonder if that grit between your teeth is dirt, sugar or something more potent'and illegal. (Narnack)

Femi Kuti Definitive Collection ****
The number of famous musicians that have emerged out of the afro-beat style is proportional to the number of its fans, or people who even know what afrobeat is. (Hint: there aren’t many.) It’s a shame to think that Kuti, one of afrobeat’s biggest names, hardly gets the recognition he deserves. Nigerian native Kuti skillfully mixes traditional African percussion and vocals with enough ’70s funk, rock and soul to deem it badassss in this career-spanning collection. A surging brass section only fuels Kuti’s intensity, outshining superstar guests Mos Def and Common. Even tragic songs of African unity and AIDS awareness can’t affect Kuti’s infectious groove, providing some beautiful pain that hurts so good. (Wrasse)

Jennifer Gentle The Midnight Room **
Remember that scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? when the steam-roller runs over Christopher Lloyd’s character, but then he flaps back up and inflates himself into a red-eyed, shrill lunatic? Musically, Jennifer Gentle is the closest thing to that nightmarish cartoon that I’ve since encountered. Despite the name, Jennifer Gentle is actually the band name of Italian artist Marco Fasolo who specializes in making plinking, cabaret guitars that mirror the silliness of Ween, but with more sinister undertones à la Oingo Boingo’s Mystic Knights years or the whole Pee-Wee Herman score in general. Credit should be given for the sheer inventiveness of the sound, but Fasolo’s helium-induced voice, piani (you know, the piano they played in old, Western saloons), and a plethora of kazoos make each song indistinguishable, only prolonging the nightmare. And if, by looking at the track list, you’re at all wondering if the song entitled “Granny’s House” is the most frightening track on the album, it is. (Sub Pop)

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About The Author

Ryan Bradford

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