Generally any review of this band is completely full of influence guessing, but this is less throwback-rock than near-ambience. The instrumentals here — and it's almost entirely instrumental — approach space-rock, but unlike those deeper, dopier bands we all love, the music here is less engaging. There’s less variation on the theme and more standard time signatures, resulting in light, happy background music, which might not have a lot of replay value but could be the perfect thing to offset that mopey feeling that comes from listening to the new Radiohead album for three weeks straight.
(Roc A Fella)
Surprisingly, what could’ve been a major sell-out, Jay-Z’s soundtrack for American Gangster is one of the most solid albums of the year, and maybe Jay-Z’s best since The Blueprint. He works harder than any half-billionaire should on tracks such as “Roc Boys” and “No Hook,” sounding like he still needs the money, then comes off like a hardened cynic on tracks like “Fallin’” and “Ignorant Shit.” He gets all philosophical on the vanity of materialism and rap’s place in culture, splits verses with labelmate Nas, and brings out ubiquitous guest star Lil Wayne just to kick his ass in front of a national audience.
That’s how you retire.
Sawdust is a good title for this B-side compilation, as would’ve been Crap We Didn’t Feel Like Putting on an Actual Album. The song with Lou Reed, “Tranquilize,” is pretty damn sweet, and a few other worthy tracks (“Leave the Bourbon on the Shelf,” “Where the White Boys Dance”) are great for the few fans who haven’t heard them. But the live tracks, the 10-minute dance remix of “Mr Brightside,” and the sickeningly straight cover of Kenny Rogers’ weepy “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town,” are exceptionally bad filler on an album that’s already a bunch of B-sides thrown together. That’s exactly the kind of shit modern-rock doesn’t need right now, assholes. •