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+ Donato Wharton - Body Isolations
+ Svalastog - Woodwork
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+ Rosy Parlane - Jessamine
+ Jarvis Cocker - The Jarvis Cocker Record
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+ Bob Dylan - Modern Times
+ Excepter - Alternation
+ Chris Thile - How To Grow A Woman From The Ground
+ Brad Mehldau - Live in Japan
+ M Ward - Post-War
+ Various Artists - Touch 25
+ The Mountain Goats - Get Lonely
+ The White Birch - Come Up For Air
+ Camera Obscura - Let's Get Out of This Country
+ Coachwhips - Double Death
+ Various Artists - Tibetan And Bhutanese Instrumental And Folk Music, Volume 2
+ Giuseppe Ielasi - Giuseppe Ielasi
+ Cex - Actual Fucking
+ Sufjan Stevens - The Avalanche
+ Leafcutter John - The Forest And The Sea
+ Carla Bozulich - Evangelista
+ Barbara Morgenstern - The Grass Is Always Greener
+ Robin Guthrie - Continental
+ Peaches - Impeach My Bush
+ Oakley Hall - Second Guessing
+ Klee - Honeysuckle
+ The Court & Spark - Hearts
+ TV On The Radio - Return To Cookie Mountain
+ Awesome Color - Awesome Color
+ Jenny Wilson - Love And Youth
+ Asobi Seksu - Citrus
+ Marsen Jules - Les Fleurs
+ The Moore Brothers - Murdered By The Moore Brothers
+ Regina Spektor - Begin To Hope
+ The 1900s - Plume Delivery EP
+ Alejandro Escovedo - The Boxing Mirror
+ Function - The Secret Miracle Fountain
+ Sonic Youth - Rather Ripped
+ Loscil - Plume
+ Boris - Pink
+ Deadboy And The Elephantmen - We Are Night Sky
+ Glissandro 70 - Glissandro 70
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #2)
+ Calexico - Garden Ruin (Review #1)
+ The Flaming Lips - At War With The Mystics
+ The Glass Family - Sleep Inside This Wheel
+ Various Artists - Songs For Sixty Five Roses
+ The Fiery Furnaces - Bitter Tea
+ Motorpsycho - Black Hole/Blank Canvas
+ The Red Krayola - Introduction
+ Metal Hearts - Socialize
+ American Princes - Less And Less
+ Sondre Lerche And The Faces Down Quartet - Duper Sessions
+ Supersilent - 7
+ Band Of Horses - Everything All The Time
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Beastie Boys
To The 5 Boroughs

Adrock, Mike D and MCA's first full-length recording since 1998's Hello Nasty is a decent album and a bad Beastie Boys album. The bar is low these days, and they can jump it with little to no exertion, but they have better tracks in them than these 15 usually-less-than-three-minute joints in To the 5 Boroughs.

From the album title and Matteo Pericoli's skyline drawing of Manhattan on the cover, you're looking forward to a tribute as only the Beastie Boys can do it, to the city that not only raised them, but mirrors their ability to be smart and scrappy and act the fool all at once. First track "Ch-Check It Out" diverts you for a few welcome minutes with a get-the-kids-jumpin' beat that any party this summer would be crazy not to play. But they shoot their load with that first song, and the ones that follow wobble from politics ("Kyoto treaty he decided to neglect, and still the U.S. just wants to flex") to city affection ("Black, white, New York you make it happen").

The open note they write to New York City doesn't ring true if you're living here. "I love everything about NYC" is a line that anyone who's not a tourist needs to qualify — pick something! New Yorkers know this city is many different things to as many folks, and that when you try speaking to all of it, you end up saying nothing. "Diversity unified, whoever you are" is a line for Ed Koch trying to recruit Republican convention volunteers, not these guys. MCA mentions that he's from Brooklyn every chance he gets, and stoops to dropping Ellis Island in "An Open Letter to NYC" as though any resident has been there since a school field trip. It sounds like the thing you'd name about New York if you don't really remember it.

Despite this, in the bright spots the Beastie Boys' lyrical skills are strong as ever. Anyone that can work in Mr. Belvedere, Helen of Troy, Bacardi, Jabba the Hutt, bon vivants, iced lattes and Wile E. Coyote (Why, you ask? Because they can), as they do in "Triple Trouble," deserves respect. In "Hey Fuck You," the problem is the dull soundtrack, but definitely not the lyrics, which start with "You sold a few records but don't get slick 'cause you used a corked bat to get those hits," end with "my style's impregnable like the Hoover Dam" and insert "I've got billions and billions of rhymes to flex. 'Cause I've got more rhymes than Carl Sagan's got turtlenecks" right in between.

Part of the fun of the Beastie Boys is knowing that they're fucking with the rhymes and you; another part is knowing that they give a fuck about what's happening in the world. Those two things don't always work well together, though, especially when they say something watered down and deliver it as though they don't buy it either. A few years ago I remember reading a review of the second season of HBO's “Six Feet Under” where the underwhelmed writer said that the show was better than the majority of what else is out there, "but that's the easy part." Sometimes the best lines are already written.

by Andrew LaVallee

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