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click to enlarge Roots Manuva  -  - Awfully Deep  - Big Dada Known for his offbeat, Caribbean- - inflected UK rap, Roots Manuva returns strong with his - third longplayer. But unlike his last album, the bouyant - Run Come Save Me, this disc finds Mr. Manuva - in a self-reflective, almost bitter state of mind. He strips - the beats down so far they resemble industrial music. - The lyrics show an honesty rare in much of today's hip- - hop. "I don't give a damn about UK rap," he spits, "I'm a - UK black making UK tracks ... those pigeonholes were - never nothing to hold me." The only problems are the - repetitive choruses, which seem lazy compared to the - insightful and dextrous lyrical display. It's fitting that - such a maverick of funk would pull on the reins by - making such an introspective record just when - international fame was within his grasp. He even talks - about possibly quitting music. That would be a shame, - because the music world could use more sharp wits like - his. -- Dan Wilcock -
  • Roots Manuva

    Awfully Deep
    Big Dada

    Known for his offbeat, Caribbean- inflected UK rap, Roots Manuva returns strong with his third longplayer. But unlike his last album, the bouyant Run Come Save Me, this disc finds Mr. Manuva in a self-reflective, almost bitter state of mind. He strips the beats down so far they resemble industrial music. The lyrics show an honesty rare in much of today's hip- hop. "I don't give a damn about UK rap," he spits, "I'm a UK black making UK tracks ... those pigeonholes were never nothing to hold me." The only problems are the repetitive choruses, which seem lazy compared to the insightful and dextrous lyrical display. It's fitting that such a maverick of funk would pull on the reins by making such an introspective record just when international fame was within his grasp. He even talks about possibly quitting music. That would be a shame, because the music world could use more sharp wits like his. -- Dan Wilcock

click to enlarge Deep Thinkers  -  - Necks Move  - Datura Anyone who still thinks underground - hip-hop is confined to the coasts should take a listen to - Deep Thinkers from Kansas City, Mo. Their debut album - is a glorious blend of leftfield beats by turntablist - Leonard D. Stroy and political agitation by lyricist Brother - of Moses. Far removed from the slick productions - currently ruling the airwaves, this duo makes messy art. - Anti-establishment anthems like "War of Words" combine - social-realist lyrics over sound-beds of sitar, spooky - guitars, symphonic flourishes and spitfire beats. They - even honor their hometown in the hilarious "We Live in - Kansas City," with lyrics such as "I don't drive a monster - truck." The vocal delivery can be a little annoying, - reminiscent of early Pharcyde, and the music can be a - stew at times. But this record is pulsing with 10 times - more life than big-money rap. -- Dan Wilcock
  • Deep Thinkers

    Necks Move
    Datura

    Anyone who still thinks underground hip-hop is confined to the coasts should take a listen to Deep Thinkers from Kansas City, Mo. Their debut album is a glorious blend of leftfield beats by turntablist Leonard D. Stroy and political agitation by lyricist Brother of Moses. Far removed from the slick productions currently ruling the airwaves, this duo makes messy art. Anti-establishment anthems like "War of Words" combine social-realist lyrics over sound-beds of sitar, spooky guitars, symphonic flourishes and spitfire beats. They even honor their hometown in the hilarious "We Live in Kansas City," with lyrics such as "I don't drive a monster truck." The vocal delivery can be a little annoying, reminiscent of early Pharcyde, and the music can be a stew at times. But this record is pulsing with 10 times more life than big-money rap. -- Dan Wilcock

click to enlarge Louis XIV   -  - The Best Little Secrets Are Kept -  -  Pineapple/Atlantic   -  - San Diego's Louis XIV does good ol' rock 'n roll right, - smacking the tired garage band formula on the ass by - insinuating enough glam, '70s punk and blues to keep it - going all night long. On "Finding Out True Love is Blind" - -- abetted by the traditional staples of a sassy quasi- - blues lick and hand claps -- singer/guitarist Jason Hill's - delivery is oddly reminiscent of The Rocky Horror - Picture Show's Dr. Frankenfurter. "Paper Doll" - launches into weird new wave-inspired duets by guitarist - Brian Karscig and guest Lindsey Troy, just to confuse - you. A harmony-laden choral section later, and you're - completely off the loop. It's a schizophrenic song, but - something different, at least, in a post-Strokes age. - -- Kara Luger
  • Louis XIV

    The Best Little Secrets Are Kept
    Pineapple/Atlantic

    San Diego's Louis XIV does good ol' rock 'n roll right, smacking the tired garage band formula on the ass by insinuating enough glam, '70s punk and blues to keep it going all night long. On "Finding Out True Love is Blind" -- abetted by the traditional staples of a sassy quasi- blues lick and hand claps -- singer/guitarist Jason Hill's delivery is oddly reminiscent of The Rocky Horror Picture Show's Dr. Frankenfurter. "Paper Doll" launches into weird new wave-inspired duets by guitarist Brian Karscig and guest Lindsey Troy, just to confuse you. A harmony-laden choral section later, and you're completely off the loop. It's a schizophrenic song, but something different, at least, in a post-Strokes age. -- Kara Luger

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