Staff Trax: Janelle Monae, Social Distortion and Neutral Milk Hotel
Janelle Monáe - "Faster"
I would not be surprised to see Janelle Monáe'sThe ArchAndroid (Suites II and III)
on many best-of lists at the end of this year. Even I, somebody who doesn't regularly listen to hip-hop or anything hip-hop-influenced, can't deny how tuneful, multi-colored, and dense this record is. Sure, there are comparisons to Outkast's last few albums, but I also hear stuff that sounds like Stevie Wonder and Stereolab and whole bunch of other things. Definitely worth your time if you still haven't heard it yet.--Eric Grubbs
When I noticed that Social Distortion was going to play our area in November, I started recalling the many times I've been lucky enough to catch Mike Ness and crew over the years. Back in 1996, I was out of town but managed to luckily stumble into a Social D show on theWhite Light, White Heat, White Trash
tour. I remember thinking that the album title was the perfect summation of the band's sound. When Ness started the band way back in 1978 (!), they were just some foul-mouthed, snotty punks who had just enough attitude and songwriting ability to make a splash. After Ness' various run-ins with the law finally landed him in the slammer, I thought the band was done for good. But Ness proved resilient and has kept churning out noisy, aggressive, yet still tuneful albums. "I Was Wrong," the single fromWhite Light
is a blisteringly loud "ballad" that rings true for any guy who ever had to apologize to a woman. I guess that's all of us.--Darryl Smyers
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