This is Not a Test


Last year, with the release of the superb, consistent, jangled brain-banger Under Construction, Missy Elliott and Timbaland became thee most important pop artists alive. People might argue they were that two years ago, with 2001's so addictive, but that record was only part-genius--a vaguely muddled equation which repeats itself on This is Not a Test. The Diwali riddim-cribbing "Pass that Dutch" turns out to be one of Test's high points, and a few songs repeat its tinny dancehall vibe (with guest Men: Elephant, Beenie). Meanwhile, Missy recycles the chorus of "Push It" in its entirety (a great song, but what the eff), does her watery R&B diva thing, and makes about four incredible tracks ("Pump it Up," "Wake Up," "Let it Bump," "Spelling Bee"), but sounds unsure as to where to take us next. One high point is Nelly rapping: "I heard you like the magic stick/ me, I got the gadget stick/ it's like Go-Go Gadget dick/É make you wanna press pause and shit." RIGHT! JULIANNE SHEPHERD


Love the Cup

(Ba Da Bing!)


These days, rock is best when it opts for raw--when it gets rickety and licentious and stripped naked just short of Luddite. As Young People sing their stark hymns with wide eyes and The Kills drown their decadence in sex and moonshine, Glaswegian quartet Sons and Daughters are throwing a picnic of dirges, swinging between dark and light with the hypnotic tempo of metronomes and pendulums. Guitars, mandolin, and airy vocals make Love the Cup twang with broody bluegrass ("Start to End") and renegade country ("Johnny Cash"), and all that Scottish air does them good. Vocalists Adele Bethel (sometime-member of Arab Strap, along with drummer David Gow) and Scott Paterson sound determined for their weariness, a windy, lovely intensity that's innate and raw as a heartbeat. JS


Electric Garden of Delights

(Tuff City Massive)

Pot and hiphop have gone together like Jack Daniels and rock at least since Cypress Hill's 1991 debut. But few hiphop albums have been so lavishly designed for weed's effects as DJ Frane's sophomore disc; Electric Garden Of Delights laces THC vividness into every sonic element. Opening track "Thought Seeds" sets the dusted tone, with its bassline from Black Sabbath's uber-trippy "Planet Caravan," drowsy flute, fx-ed guitars, and Eastern pipes. While he observes hiphop's boom-bap requirements, Frane really feels obscure psych-rock and astral jazz platters, festooning his tracks with twanging sitars, fritzing analog synths, dreamy flute arabesques, and CTI-style piano runs. Along with Nobody's Pacific Drift, Electric Garden bridges the seldom-trod path between stoner/psych rock and backpacker hiphop with stunning results. DAVE SEGAL