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3 Music Reviews

Arrial, This Is My Beauty, Show Me Yours (self-released)

This Is My Beauty, Show Me Yours is the name of Arrial's latest demo EP; it's such a fitting title, given how easy it is these days to make music and share it across the globe. Like his 2003 demo EP, this 3-song CD captures Arrial playing beautiful melodies on a classical guitar. This one, though, is even more attractive than the last, partly because of some really complementary electronic textures (especially nice on the first track, "Mar, Revisitar") and a somewhat more abstract but still quite melodic approach overall. This is pretty, but not just pretty. There's a spookiness and sense of unease in the second track "Blank Holiday Monday," and some serious melancholy comes with the peacefulness during the third track, "Shiver." An enticing and enjoyable little recording. - dave heaton

Kutmasta Kurt, Redneck Games (Lakeshore Records)

Kutmasta Kurt is best known for his collaborations with Kool Keith, but he's been all around the hip-hop map, as a producer and remixer. Redneck Games spotlights both roles, with 16 tracks, some remixes and some rare cuts from names you know. It kicks off nicely with a great remix of the Beastie Boys' "Body Movin'", featuring some nice haunted-house piano. That piano is a sign of the imaginative stamp that Kurt puts on his best remixes. At his best, he has a great ear; he carefully weaves musical motifs into the song which are surprising on paper but fit perfectly. Not every track here is dynamite, but there's a ton of really creative and interesting ones, making the CD overall quite an entertaining trip. Skip the Linkin Park remix (or listen to Motion Man's verse and skip through the rest), but be sure to check out the Bollywood remix of Diverse and Mos Def's "Wildin' Out," the dressed-in-strings "Ready 2 Rock W/ Us" by Rasco and the funky remix of Kool Keith's "I Don't Believe U." Overall Redneck Games is a steallar collection, nothing groundbreaking but filled with nice beats and textures. - dave heaton

Tobin Sprout, Live at the Horseshoe Tavern (Recordhead)

Live albums mean so much more when they come from musicians who rarely play live. He's been touring more often in the last couple years, Live at the Horseshoe Tavern is still likely to be many listeners' first experience with Tobin Sprout's live performances, not counting when he was in Guided by Voices and would sing a song or two per concert. The 2-disc Live at the Horsehoe Tavern is a crisp recording of a complete show from April 2004, recorded in Toronto. Sprout is joined by a band of four; together they sound sharp and full of energy. From pretty ballads to uptempo pop-rock numbers, everything sounds fantastic. There's 29 songs performed (plus three demos of new songs stuck to the end like icing on the cake), and the songs come from all over, from three of the four albums he's released under his own name, from the album with Eyesinweasal, from EPs and 7"s, from Guided by Voices albums, from Guided by Voices EPs...even a song from one of the Airport 5 albums he created via mail with Bob Pollard. The collection of songs really drive home what a solid body of work Tobin Sprout has gathered over the years. Even his most 'non-essential' releases are memorable. It's a real shame that he'll be forever remembered as 'former member of Guided by Voices', as his own material stands in a category of his own. His lyrics consistently manage to be both emotionally direct and filled with imaginative, often surreal imagery and juxtapositions, and he has a real gift for memory. He's one of the finest pop-rock songwriters around, and Live at the Horseshoe Tavern is just one more reminder of that in a long train of them. - dave heaton


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