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click to enlarge DJ Shadow  - The Outsider  -  -  - UMVD / Release: 9/19  -  -  - DJ Shadow, ever the critical dandy, has a pretty - untouchable status for being ahead of scenes even after - they've arrived, a turntabling mæstro who's the go- - to guy for must-hear production. Now though, perhaps - tired of being The Beat Genius for over a decade, he's - chosen to reinvent himself, and has shot himself right in - the foot. This isn't tearing down idols; The - Outsider is a lousy album. It's a motley checksheet - of songs, alternating blues and crunk into a whatever- - shit-sticks mess: He dabbles blandly in Dirty South raps, - mood poems and narrative acoustica, even aping himself - on "Erase You," which is just another, lamer "Rabbit in - Your Headlights." The Outsider is right: - Shadow's an artist manqu, out of his element and - embarrassing himself.  Matt Martin
  • DJ Shadow

    The Outsider

    UMVD / Release: 9/19

    DJ Shadow, ever the critical dandy, has a pretty untouchable status for being ahead of scenes even after they've arrived, a turntabling mæstro who's the go- to guy for must-hear production. Now though, perhaps tired of being The Beat Genius for over a decade, he's chosen to reinvent himself, and has shot himself right in the foot. This isn't tearing down idols; The Outsider is a lousy album. It's a motley checksheet of songs, alternating blues and crunk into a whatever- shit-sticks mess: He dabbles blandly in Dirty South raps, mood poems and narrative acoustica, even aping himself on "Erase You," which is just another, lamer "Rabbit in Your Headlights." The Outsider is right: Shadow's an artist manqu, out of his element and embarrassing himself. Matt Martin

click to enlarge Post-War  -  -  - Merge  -  - Now four albums into his career, M. Ward still has his - nose in a dusty jukebox. And, for all the retro-wagons - that songwriters jump on, Ward is a rare artist whose - nostalgia not only comes off as genuine and studied, but - worthwhile. On Post-War, he continues his - trajectory, building unconventional Americana with his - breezy finger-picking, his throaty tenor and innovative, - often spacey, production full of underlying strings and a - lot of reverb. Post-War takes its thematic cue - not from an imagined peace-on-Earth, but from stories - about leaving for war and coming back changed. The - theme doesn't swallow the songs, though. The lovely - retrospection of "Chinese Translation" and the cinematic - promise of "Poison Cup" would still be great outside of - the album ... say, in a jukebox, 30 years from now. -  Elliott Johnston
  • Post-War

    Merge

    Now four albums into his career, M. Ward still has his nose in a dusty jukebox. And, for all the retro-wagons that songwriters jump on, Ward is a rare artist whose nostalgia not only comes off as genuine and studied, but worthwhile. On Post-War, he continues his trajectory, building unconventional Americana with his breezy finger-picking, his throaty tenor and innovative, often spacey, production full of underlying strings and a lot of reverb. Post-War takes its thematic cue not from an imagined peace-on-Earth, but from stories about leaving for war and coming back changed. The theme doesn't swallow the songs, though. The lovely retrospection of "Chinese Translation" and the cinematic promise of "Poison Cup" would still be great outside of the album ... say, in a jukebox, 30 years from now. Elliott Johnston

click to enlarge M. Ward  - Outkast  - Idlewild  -  -  - Virgin  -  - As if there wasn't enough pressure on Outkast  Andre - Benjamin (Dre) and Antwan Patton (Big Boi)  to follow - up its multi-platinum 2003 smash album - Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, the duo turned - up the heat by starring in their debut feature film, - Idlewild. Regardless of box office receipts for - the silver screen project, its accompanying soundtrack - doesn't disappoint. It follows in a long line of imaginative - songwriting and crafty hooks, keeping Outkast's - superstar status intact. "Mighty O" gives Cab Calloway's - "Minnie the Moocher" a hip-hop makeover, while the - backwoods blues jam "Idlewild Blues (Don't Chu Worry - 'Bout Me)" is arguably the album's "Hey Ya." Don't miss - out on the mind-blowing Macy Gray, who delivers an - acid-trip blues experience on "Greatest Show on Earth." - Outkast smells like roses once again.  John - Benson
  • M. Ward

    Outkast

    Idlewild

    Virgin

    As if there wasn't enough pressure on Outkast Andre Benjamin (Dre) and Antwan Patton (Big Boi) to follow up its multi-platinum 2003 smash album Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, the duo turned up the heat by starring in their debut feature film, Idlewild. Regardless of box office receipts for the silver screen project, its accompanying soundtrack doesn't disappoint. It follows in a long line of imaginative songwriting and crafty hooks, keeping Outkast's superstar status intact. "Mighty O" gives Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher" a hip-hop makeover, while the backwoods blues jam "Idlewild Blues (Don't Chu Worry 'Bout Me)" is arguably the album's "Hey Ya." Don't miss out on the mind-blowing Macy Gray, who delivers an acid-trip blues experience on "Greatest Show on Earth." Outkast smells like roses once again. John Benson

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