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click to enlarge Perpetual Groove  - LIVELOVEDIE  -  -  - Tree Leaf  -  - Sounds like: Eclectic feel-good, alt-country - meets folk -  - Short take: It is easy being green -  - These guys are all over the place: One track sounds like - The Samples' Sean Kelly with Sublime, another like - Hootie with The Black Crowes. Then there's some - keyboard-heavy instrumental jam tracks and alt-guitar - ballads remniscent of Lucero's last album, which was a - heavy tribute to The Boss. Safe to say, these guys pack a - number of hats on their tour bus, and many of them are - pretty. But the coolest thing about this album might be - its production, which had zero environmental impact on - the environment, using renewable energy credits from - recording to manufacturing (read: soy inks!) and being - produced by an environmentally friendly label. Although - not a reason to buy alone, it's commendable. A better - reason to buy: The "trance arena rock," as they call it, - exposes more depth with each listen.  - Matthew Schniper
  • Perpetual Groove

    LIVELOVEDIE

    Tree Leaf

    Sounds like: Eclectic feel-good, alt-country meets folk

    Short take: It is easy being green

    These guys are all over the place: One track sounds like The Samples' Sean Kelly with Sublime, another like Hootie with The Black Crowes. Then there's some keyboard-heavy instrumental jam tracks and alt-guitar ballads remniscent of Lucero's last album, which was a heavy tribute to The Boss. Safe to say, these guys pack a number of hats on their tour bus, and many of them are pretty. But the coolest thing about this album might be its production, which had zero environmental impact on the environment, using renewable energy credits from recording to manufacturing (read: soy inks!) and being produced by an environmentally friendly label. Although not a reason to buy alone, it's commendable. A better reason to buy: The "trance arena rock," as they call it, exposes more depth with each listen. Matthew Schniper

click to enlarge Kings of Leon  - Because of the Times  -  -  - RCA  -  - Sounds like: Late-night driving music -  - Short take: Out of the garage, into the dark -  - Uncertain times abound on the Kings' third effort, - Because of the Times, which finds the garage - rock act with a Southern smirk mixing up its approach. - While singer Caleb Followill maintains his penchant for - creating sounds over mind-blowing lyrics, it's the guitar - that truly marks a change for the quartet. From its - (gasp!) seven-minute opener "Knocked Up" to subtle - album closer "Arizona," the album's melody, hook and - overall appeal lay within six-string explorations. - Specifically, "Arizona" creates an air of desperation, with - cathartic chords coating a broken heart. Just as the - group's previous releases were influenced by The - Strokes, there's no doubt these guys were edified after - recently opening for U2, Pearl Jam and Bob Dylan in - concert. Because of the Times won't have many, - if any, hits. But it's the Kings' best to date.  - John Benson
  • Kings of Leon

    Because of the Times

    RCA

    Sounds like: Late-night driving music

    Short take: Out of the garage, into the dark

    Uncertain times abound on the Kings' third effort, Because of the Times, which finds the garage rock act with a Southern smirk mixing up its approach. While singer Caleb Followill maintains his penchant for creating sounds over mind-blowing lyrics, it's the guitar that truly marks a change for the quartet. From its (gasp!) seven-minute opener "Knocked Up" to subtle album closer "Arizona," the album's melody, hook and overall appeal lay within six-string explorations. Specifically, "Arizona" creates an air of desperation, with cathartic chords coating a broken heart. Just as the group's previous releases were influenced by The Strokes, there's no doubt these guys were edified after recently opening for U2, Pearl Jam and Bob Dylan in concert. Because of the Times won't have many, if any, hits. But it's the Kings' best to date. John Benson

click to enlarge El-P  - I'll Sleep When You're Dead  -  -  - Definitive Jux  -  - Sounds like: A rapper who can't keep up with - his beats -  - Short take: The beats are hot  too hot for - these rhymes -  - Ah, the white rapper's dilemma: No matter how good - your beats or how solid your flow, it's always an uphill - battle to street cred. After eight solo releases, white - rapper and producer El-P is still thirsty for recognition - and it's transparent on this release, with all the cameos: - Trent Reznor, The Mars Volta, Cat Power, Aesop Rock - and others. The beats on I'll Sleep When You're Dead - are dark and heavy, but mostly hot (especially on - "Up All Night," "No Kings" and "Run the Numbers"), and - his wordplay can be pretty solid, too ("Tasmanian Pain - Coaster," "Flyentology," "The Overly Dramatic Truth"). But - on the whole, the words don't keep the pace with the - backbeats. And that's a pretty big problem when trying - to distinguish yourself as a producer who can also spit - fire.  Pete Freedman
  • El-P

    I'll Sleep When You're Dead

    Definitive Jux

    Sounds like: A rapper who can't keep up with his beats

    Short take: The beats are hot too hot for these rhymes

    Ah, the white rapper's dilemma: No matter how good your beats or how solid your flow, it's always an uphill battle to street cred. After eight solo releases, white rapper and producer El-P is still thirsty for recognition and it's transparent on this release, with all the cameos: Trent Reznor, The Mars Volta, Cat Power, Aesop Rock and others. The beats on I'll Sleep When You're Dead are dark and heavy, but mostly hot (especially on "Up All Night," "No Kings" and "Run the Numbers"), and his wordplay can be pretty solid, too ("Tasmanian Pain Coaster," "Flyentology," "The Overly Dramatic Truth"). But on the whole, the words don't keep the pace with the backbeats. And that's a pretty big problem when trying to distinguish yourself as a producer who can also spit fire. Pete Freedman

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