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Welcome back, friends, to a new edition of Music for the Masses. This week, due to some slim pickings… we are keeping it a bit short. So… sit back and relax as we kick you in The Shins and hitchhike across the galaxy with Mos Def. Sound like fun? Sure hope so. Well, hey? What do you say we find out?

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The Shins
Album: Wincing The Night Away
Sounds Like? Jeremy Enigk spanking a fat and naughty Brian Wilson for going off his meds… again.
You know? If I were James Mercer or Jesse Sandoval, co-founders of inde-rock darlings, The Shins, the first thing I would do each and every morning is to roll over and give Zach Braff a big, ol’ sloppy blow job. And no, I’m not talking about your everyday, run-of-the-mill, “let’s get this over quick because ‘Deal or No Deal’ starts in ten” kind of blow job either. I’m talking the “savor it like it’s the best steak dinner you’ve ever had” blow job replete with minimal raking of the teeth and a subtle grip. Kinda like you’re holding a baby bird in your hand and, umm, rhythmically choking it to death. . .as you lick it’s head.

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I mean, honestly… if you had a guy that was single-handedly responsible for the fact that people outside of Portland, OR know who in the hell you are, what WOULD you give him to show him “he’s special?” Umm hmm. See? Exactly my point. Granted Braff, the real Dr. McDreamy if you ask me, didn’t write the music, sing the songs or play any of the instruments on any of The Shins albums, but if Zach hadn’t put two of The Shins’ songs from Oh, Inverted World on the soundtrack to his “little indie” film, Garden State, in addition to having Natalie Portman’s character state the song “New Slang” would “change your life” (even though she KNEW damn well in that film that the song “Caring Is Creepy” is SOOOO much better), these guys would still be busing tables at IHOP.

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Dirty, dirty Amidala. . .

I can honestly say that I was not an overly big fan of The Shins going into this review, but after listening to the new album, Wincing The Night Away, I am completely blown away. This band, albeit in a mellow fashion, completely kicks ass. Who knew? I mean, besides Zach, of course. Now, I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting with this disc, but this sure-as-hell wasn’t it. Featuring some masterful work from singer/guitarist James Mercer, bassist Dave Hernandez, “trippy “keyboardist/guitarist Martin Crandall and drummer, Jesse Sandoval, The Shins appear to be hitting their “musical stride” here harder than Tom Sizemore hitting Heidi Fleiss and the seamless blending of elements from folk, country and pop into a quirky and melodic hybrid that I like to call “Fopoptry,” or, if you prefer, “Focuntop,” is sublime. Hey… I know those are not as “cool sounding” as “Benifer” or “Branjolina.” Whatever. Fuck off.

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Good to see that Booger from “Revenge of the Nerds” is working again.

Some of this new material is far meatier and fuzzier (relatively speaking) than anything I recall hearing from this band in the past and that, my friends, is a great thing in balancing out the overall sound. I particularly enjoy the way that Mercer’s melodic vocals and note-perfect, guitar phrasing pull the songs on this disc together while never becoming boring, stale or over-used. The album is chock full of “special moments,” but my personal favorites are the Sunny Day Real Estate-inspired “Split Needles,” the Brian Wilson meets Pinback smoothness of “Turn On Me,” the deranged lullaby “Red Rabbit” and the very Beck-esque “Sea Legs.” If this is ANY indication of the music we have to look forward to in 2007, it’s going to be one hell of a year. Fantastic job, guys, on crafting the first “must buy” of the year.

Check out the new track, Phantom Limb, here!

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Top Score!!! High Five!!!!

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Ahhh, I can remember it well. The year was 2006, the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 was ruling the box office and, more importantly, I was a fresh faced (read: pimple-riddled) kid trying to make my way in this crazy world. Ahhh, good times. It was also the year that I was introduced to the rapper known as Mos Def. I knew who Mos Def was, but I was afraid. Like a quivering accountant in a prison cell with Mike Tyson… or Gary Glitter. I had never heard anything by him. No, not Glitter… Def. Then out of the blue my brother comes home with the Mos Def/Talib Kweli collaboration Black Star. I was impressed and since that time I’ll fully admit that I am a huge Mos Def fan.

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Now, since I heard Def’s last album, The New Danger, I’ve been waiting for the promised 2006 release of Tru3 Magic. Nope… no clue what that backward “3″ means. You? Unfortunately, the disc kept getting pushed back. And pushed back. And pushed back… like Lou Diamond’s girlfriend against the trailer wall. Then, on December 29th, a Friday, the album was released to the world, even though most stores didn’t put it out till Tuesday, January 2nd. Assholes. Anyway, how do I put this… umm, the album was well worth the wait? Yeah… that’s it. I can honestly say that it is one of the best albums that kinda…  sorta… was supposed to come out last year. I dare say that it was the best rap album to come out in a long time, possibly even beating my old favorite The Return of Dr. Octgon.

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Bet his wallet says “Bad Mother Fucker.”

There are no bad songs on this disc. The beats are good, the raps are perfect. Everything about this album is on the money. If one were to twist my arm I would have to say that “Dollar Day” is the best of the best. Formerly released as a single called “Katrina Clap,” Def uses a reggae-esque vocal style over a great beat to make a really interesting song about a great tragedy. Other highlights on the album are “Crime & Medicine” and “Undenible.” Do yourself a favor and go buy this album. Unless you hate rap, then… wow… I wouldn’t recommend buying it.

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Yeahhh. . .boooyyyy!!!!

Well, folks, there you have it for this week. Oh, hey, before I forget… here are the new music release for next week…

Artist Title Genre
SCHULZE, KLAUS TIMEWIND ELECTRONIC
SHAKEYFACE BICYCLE DAY BOOGALOO ELECTRONIC
TOLLIVER, CHARLES WITH LOVE NOT PROVIDED
CROWDED HOUSE FAREWELL TO THE WORLD NOT PROVIDED
ROSS, DIANA I LOVE YOU NOT PROVIDED
STRANGLERS, THE SUITE XVI (U.K.) NOT PROVIDED
PETROL PRESENTS DEPARTURE LOUNGE: CHILL NOT PROVIDED
ORRICO, STACIE BEAUTIFUL AWAKENING NOT PROVIDED
AMERICA HERE & NOW NOT PROVIDED
STARS OF TRACK & FIELD CENTURIES BEFORE LOVE & WAR NOT PROVIDED
ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT THE COLLECTION RAP
P3 PLAYALAND RAP
RZA, The AFRO SAMURAI - SOUNDTRACK RAP
REQUIM GOVERNMENT DENIES KNOWLEDGE ROCK
CATAMENIA ETERNAL WINTER’S PROPHECY ROCK
HOLY MOSES QUEEN OF SIAM ROCK
SLAMER NOWHERELAND ROCK
ZANDELLE VENGEANCE RISING ROCK
AGE OF NEMESIS TERRA INCOGNITA ROCK
ELIS GREIFSHIRE ROCK
FAIRYLAND THE FALL OF AN EMPIRE ROCK
BIF NAKED PURGE ROCK
MALICK, PETER FEAT. NORAH JONES NEW YORK CITY - DELUXE ROCK
PUPPINI SISTERS BETCHA BOTTOM DOLLAR ROCK
REA, CHRIS THE ROAD TO HELL & BACK ROCK

As always, shop wisely and when fishing for gold in the toilet… beware of turds.

Thanks again for tuning in, friends. We will see you next with a brand spanking-new installment of Music for the Masses. Until then, keep wearing it proud and playing it loud!!

Send your ideas for what to do with all of this fucking snow, assorted hate mail, presents and review copies to:

M.C. Bell
P.O. Box 1222
Arvada, CO 80001

Here’s what I’m doing with all of this fucking snow…

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