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click to enlarge J Dilla   Donuts  -    - Stones Throw   Renowned - DJ and producer J Dilla, who died in February of lupus, - was heralded for his work with A Tribe Called Quest, - Busta Rhymes and, more recently, Madlib. Dilla's latest - album, Donuts, is typical of his work, largely - beat-heavy and laid-back. It also showcases his greatest - strength: amazing sampling skills. Dilla was from - Detroit, and Motown plays a big role on songs like "Light - My Fire," which winds and twists into a vessel for a - Beastie Boys track. Sure, there's no MC, but there doesn't - need to be: Dilla lets the whole recorded world sing for - him. Since the songs range in length from 35 seconds to - two minutes, it's best just to hit play, sit back and enjoy. -  Kara Luger
  • J Dilla

    Donuts

    Stones Throw

    Renowned DJ and producer J Dilla, who died in February of lupus, was heralded for his work with A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes and, more recently, Madlib. Dilla's latest album, Donuts, is typical of his work, largely beat-heavy and laid-back. It also showcases his greatest strength: amazing sampling skills. Dilla was from Detroit, and Motown plays a big role on songs like "Light My Fire," which winds and twists into a vessel for a Beastie Boys track. Sure, there's no MC, but there doesn't need to be: Dilla lets the whole recorded world sing for him. Since the songs range in length from 35 seconds to two minutes, it's best just to hit play, sit back and enjoy. Kara Luger

click to enlarge Two Gallants   What - the Toll Tells     Saddle Creek   - This promising San Francisco duo continues to rock - its - abrasive brand of hard Southern folk on this sophomore - album. What the Toll Tells manages to amble - along nicely enough, thanks to the punk sensibility Two - Gallants infuse into the poor-Southerner, shot-a-man- - and-can't-make-bail-type proceedings. It's all - surprisingly convincing for a couple of kids from the Bay - Area. Unfortunately, half of the album is given to lengthy - epics that never quite arrive at the emotional peaks the - band is obviously striving for. One wishes they would put - as much of their beloved Delta blues zeal into their - songs as they do into their terrific performances. - Heartfelt, sure, just not heart-rending.   Eric - Phillips
  • Two Gallants

    What the Toll Tells

    Saddle Creek

    This promising San Francisco duo continues to rock its abrasive brand of hard Southern folk on this sophomore album. What the Toll Tells manages to amble along nicely enough, thanks to the punk sensibility Two Gallants infuse into the poor-Southerner, shot-a-man- and-can't-make-bail-type proceedings. It's all surprisingly convincing for a couple of kids from the Bay Area. Unfortunately, half of the album is given to lengthy epics that never quite arrive at the emotional peaks the band is obviously striving for. One wishes they would put as much of their beloved Delta blues zeal into their songs as they do into their terrific performances. Heartfelt, sure, just not heart-rending. Eric Phillips

click to enlarge BR5-49    Dog Days -     - Dualtone    For many - diehard alt-country fans, the genre begins and ends with - Nashville outfit BR5-49, which recently released its best - album to date, Dog Days. There's something to - be said about being unassuming, and this quartet is as - inconspicuous as it gets, with subtle melodies and - modest songwriting. The secret of Dog Days is - how each track seemingly breathes on its own, requiring - you to bring your musical sensibilities to the table before - passing judgment. Don't miss out on the traditional - "Bottom of Priority," which acts as the perfect soundtrack - to a muggy summer day spent drinking lemonade and - sitting in a rocking chair on the back porch.  - John Benson
  • BR5-49

    Dog Days

    Dualtone

    For many diehard alt-country fans, the genre begins and ends with Nashville outfit BR5-49, which recently released its best album to date, Dog Days. There's something to be said about being unassuming, and this quartet is as inconspicuous as it gets, with subtle melodies and modest songwriting. The secret of Dog Days is how each track seemingly breathes on its own, requiring you to bring your musical sensibilities to the table before passing judgment. Don't miss out on the traditional "Bottom of Priority," which acts as the perfect soundtrack to a muggy summer day spent drinking lemonade and sitting in a rocking chair on the back porch. John Benson

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