Sure, there's inherently a hint of faux-queer diva worship in my giggling appreciation of America's most buoyant sweetheart--but as a reasonable, relatively discerning adult, I find myself proudly defending Lindsay Lohan's honor in the face of her ever-mounting missteps with the fervor of sincerity. So let's just say that I approached Speak with embarrassingly open arms, and pretty low expectations. You have to give our girl a little credit for dropping her "leave me alone/fame is SO hard" single (the mediocre dance pop of "Rumors," produced by long-time J.Lo shit-stick Cory Rooney) right out of the gate, but the record's remaining 10 tracks--produced in large part by John Shanks, best known for his work with Michelle Branch and (gasp!) Hilary Duff--flounder in endlessly bland sub-Sheryl Crow-isms. Considering that Lohan seems to maintain her "It" girl status (however waning), it's a little surprising that she couldn't have mustered some more adept studio handlers than a production team known predominately for churning out limply present pop. Speak, more than anything, comes off like a glaring example of mismanagement. And yet another entry in the mounting argument against my girl Lindsay. ZAC PENNINGTON
Monster Movie; Soundtracks; Tago Mago; Ege Bamyasi
All the hipsters, Kraut-rock acolytes, and pretentious journos are right: Can are godhead.
These remastered reissues of the Germans' first four full-lengths (sounding vastly better than the last batch of reissues) will nicely acquaint you with their immortal legacy. "Father Cannot Yell" (off 1969's Monster Movie) is the most startlingly auspicious beginning to any band's recording career. But the thrills are just beginning. "Mary, Mary So Contrary" and "Outside My Door" are brilliant period pieces that surely aided many acid trips. "You Doo Right" is 20 minutes of mountain-moving rhythmic tumult and melodic bliss.
Soundtracks, a stopgap collection from 1970, compiles Can's work for obscure films. It contains the supreme driving/fucking song, "Mother Sky," arguably the most hypnotic and adrenalized music ever conceived. For this and the starkly ominous funk of "Soul Desert," you can't live without Soundtracks.
Tago Mago (1971) is where Can get all tribal and Stockhausen on our asses. The opening triptych of chunky, galvanic funk-rock ("Paperhouse," "Mushroom," and "Oh Yeah") is almost structured enough for the era's AOR radio format. They are mere prelude for "Halleluwah" and "Aumgn," twin towers of mantric groove and spontaneous creative combustion, respectively.
By contrast, Ege Bamyasi (1972) is Can's most accessible and sample-worthy album. It's also the best intro for novices and hiphop producers. The entire group has disciplined themselves into forging coiled miracles of mesmerizing Miles-like jazz rock and radiant space funk.
Truly, Can are the closest thing to sorcerers rock has ever produced. DAVE SEGAL
**** Huckleberry Hound
*** Strawberry Shortcake
** Lemony Snicket
* Banana Republic