Sound Advice 

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BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet

Alligator Purse

Yep Roc Records

Sounds like: Cajun music cranked up good and loud

Short take: Laissez les bon temps rouler

If anyone knows his way around a huge pot of boiling crawfish or the slinky rhythms of Cajun music, it's Michael Doucet. What really gets this party CD popping is the unstoppable energy of songs like "Marie" and "Rouler et Tourner" (that's "Rollin' & Tumblin" to you). BeauSoleil walks the fine line between respecting and expanding tradition, with the fierce attack of button accordions and sawing fiddles perfectly complemented by strummed acoustic guitars and clanking rub boards. The guys seem like they could almost play this music in their sleep, except they'd still goose it up, crossing sonic nightmares with sugar-sweet dreams. Special guests Natalie Merchant, Garth Hudson, John Sebastian, Roswell Rudd and Bill Keith offer distinctive contributions, but the real star of this show is the incredible culture of the land where this music began. Bill Bentley

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Animal Collective

Merriweather Post Pavilion


Sounds like: Pet Sounds for Animal Collective lovers

Short take: Turn on, tune in, drop out with AC's best yet

Animal Collective's already trippy world expands with its ninth studio CD, which finds the Brooklyn-based quartet suprisingly focused and cohesive. In fact, the matured sound leads to hints of (gasp!) mainstream accessibility, especially on the uncharacteristically catchy "My Girls." The band's current definition of psychedelia is more about swirling soundscapes ("Bluish") with serpentine melodies ("Summertime Clothes") and less about tripped-out guitar jams, except on the album-closing "Brother Sport." There's even an indie pop aesthetic infiltrating the majority of these 11 tracks. Unlike the outdoor concert venue it's named after, Merriweather Post Pavilion isn't aimed at the masses, but should definitely satisfy more eclectic music fans. John Benson

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Various Artists

The Roots of Hip Hop

Harte Recordings

Sounds like: Another era's walk on the wild side

Short take: Dr. Octagon's got nothing on the Famous Hokum Boys

It's almost impossible to trace the roots of hip-hop to their origin, because that would basically go back to when humans began to speak. But this eye-opening collection does a great service in mining the earliest examples of recorded blues and jazz, particularly those that trade in bawdy braggadocio. The Famous Hokum Boys' twisted "Terrible Operation Blues" is more Dr. Octagon than Grandmaster Flash, while "Why I Like Roosevelt" by the Soul Stirrers the gospel group that Sam Cooke and Johnny Taylor once called home suggests some of the social foundations of hip-hop. Meanwhile, Dirty Red's "Mother Fuyer" is pretty much self-explanatory. Like hip-hop when it first arrived, this was music aimed at those who needed it most. And to that audience, even Red Saunders' "Hambone" probably sounded like heaven. Bill Bentley


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