busdriver
Temporary Forever
(Self-Released)
****

Oh my shit! That whirring is the sound of your head spinning off after you put Busdriver's new record on the stereo. See, on his last record, Memoirs of the Elephant Man, it was clear that Busdriver had the skills--he was humorous, intelligent, and fresh, with that cranked-up, yet impeccably enunciated delivery that rings with the same jazzy energy as Archie Schepp. The thing was, the production was all okay, but it couldn't quite keep up with this powerhouse of an MC. Well, thanks to the simply batty scratching of D-Styles, and creative production by the likes of Daddy Kev, Cerebro, and Paris Zax, Temporary Forever fucking BUMPS, keeping the future in mind without getting too Anti-Pop Consortium (R.I.P.) on our asses--aka, it's still a cohesive beat you can dance to. It opens with Busdriver rapping in insane staccato tandem with a classical flute sample on "Imaginary Places"--that's when your head starts whirring--and never stops amazing. JULIANNE SHEPHERD

love life
Here is Night, Brothers, Here the Birds Bum
(Jagjaguwar)

***

Two things stand out the most in the whirlpool-dark sound of Love Life, and especially on this record. One is the enormous, deadly buzz of bass, which acts as primary melodic instrument. The second, of course, is the possessed, husky yawl of Katrina Ford who, if you didn't know, would have you playing the "Boy or Girl?" game for days. Like Diamanda Galas, and Siouxsie in her more misanthropic moments, Katrina Ford conveys ominousness with a compelling, bloody grace. Like Diamanda and Siouxsie, Katrina is literary and poised, and therefore has massive "crossover potential," as they say--you won't likely find Love Life in the Skuf bin next to those old Bell, Book and Candle/Laether Strip drum-machine disaster goth-athons. One complaint is that there's not much variation in dynamics; but Love Life are reinventing demonics for now in a way that no one else has dared. JS

beth orton
Daybreaker
(Astralwerks)
***

What usually happens to recording artists that are hailed to be the "Next Big Thing," is that it doesn't happen. This isn't due to bogus precognition or cliché overstatements, but to the perpetual state of low quality that is pop music. An example of such raw musical talent as Beth Orton could easily disrupt an industry content with mediocrity. Upon the media blitz Orton received during the release of 1999's Central Reservation, more than a few hopeful music critics threw around said ideological phrase--to no avail. Orton's latest release starts off sounding like it had big plans for itself, and gradually proves its worth as some of her best work to date. But what's more important here is the notoriety she will accrue from simply having made a good album. JOE FAUSTIN KELLY