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CD Reviews:
Listening Room: OutKast, Paris Hilton and more

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Monday, August 21, 2006

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OutKast “Idlewild” La Face ***1/2

Early on OutKast’s first album in three years, Antwan “Big Boi” Patton declares that “the game done changed/Outkast came to heat it up.” They may not necessarily be saviors of hip-hop on “Idlewild,” the companion piece to the forthcoming film of the same name, but Patton and partner Andre “3000” Benja min have crafted another genre-jumping gem that fills its 78 minutes with the same kind of creative adventure and spirited fun that marked multiplatinum predecessors such as 2000’s “Stankonia” and 2003’s two-disc “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below.” While some of the 25 tracks on “Idlewild” (“Makes No Sense at All,” “PJ & Rooster,” “When I Look in Your Eyes”) refl ect the jazzy 1930s speakeasy setting of the film, the Atlanta duo isn’t limited by that concept, instead shooting typically wide and often blending two or more styles into the same song. “Mighty ‘O’,” the fi rst single, marks the first time the OutKast partners have rhymed on the same track in six years and channels Cab Calloway into a speedy Southern fl ow. Benjamin sings the blues on “Idlewild Blues (Don’tchu Worry ’Bout Me)” while guests Whild Peach take things to church for “Mutron Angel” and “In Your Dreams,” with Killer Mike and Janelle Monae, weaves Latin flavas into the groove. Ridiculously catchy pop choruses, meanwhile, populate songs such as “N2U,” “Peaches” (with Sleepy Brown and Scar) and “Hollywood Divorce” (with Snoop Dogg and Lil’ Wayne). Less successful, however, are the disjointed Macy Gray collaboration “Greatest Show on Earth” and “A Bad Note,” which is nearly nine minutes of ethereal noodling that, thanks to its position at the end of the album, is easily skipped. The hit-to-miss ratio falls heavily in OutKast’s favor, however, making “Idlewild” an essential destination for a late summer visit.


Paris Hilton “Paris” Warner Bros. *

The bullseye on Paris Hilton’s back is so large that it’s almost not sporting to take a shot. But ... why not? It’s no great stretch to have low expectations for the professional celebrity’s first album, but Hilton makes it easy by living down to them with 11 tracks that are devoid of a single original idea and instead sound like a trip through the discard piles of every other pop diva. So we have picked-over Britney (“Turn it Up,” “Turn You On”), Mariah (“Fightin’ Over Me”), Janet (“Heartbeat”), Madonna (“Not Leaving Without You,” “I Want You”) and, of course, the No Doubt ripoff of the fi rst single, “Stars Are Blind.” “Jealousy,” aimed at any number of former friends, at least sounds sincere, but the rest, right down to an album-closing cover of Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” (um, not), turns imitation into the greatest form of insult.

New and noteworthy

Geri Allen, “Timeless Portraits and Dreams” (Telarc) — The Pontiacborn jazz pianist dedicates her latest album to civil rights pioneers.

Richard Bona, “Tiki” (Decca) — Multiplatinum R&B stylist John Legend guests on this virtuoso African bassist’s fourth solo album.

Cursive, “Happy Hollow” (Saddle Creek) — The Nebraska buzz-band delivers its first new set since 2003’s breakout album “The Ugly Organ.”

Gosling, “Here Is ...” (V2) — The debut album by the Washington State modern rockers who cite Pink Floyd, Elvis Presley and Soundgarden as primary infl uences.

Gov’t Mule, “High and Mighty”

(ATO) — The heavy rockin’ outfi t issues its second album since reconstituting as a quartet.

Pat Green, “Cannonball” (BNA) — The country maverick from Texas switches labels for his 10th release.

Judah Johnson, “Be Where I Be”

(Flameshovel) — The Detroit rockers’ second album mixes electronics into their straightforward, crafted brand of rock.

Kelis, “Kelis Was Here” (Jive) — The former Neptunes protégé returns with help from rappers Nas (who’s also her husband) and Too $hort, along with producers Cee-Lo, will.i.am of Black Eyed Peas and Raphael Saadiq.

Lamb of God,“Sacra ment” (Epic) — The extreme headbangers from Virginia invite us to “Walk With Me in Hell” and other pleasant activities.

Primal Scream, “Riot City Blues”

(Columbia) — The beloved British rockers welcome mates from Echo & the Bunnymen, the Kills, and Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds on their latest set.

Radio Birdman, “Zeno Beach”

(Yep Roc) — The first studio album in 25 years from the infl uential Australian rock outfit, fronted by Ann Arbor native Deniz Tek.

Skye, “Mind How You Go”

(Cordless) — The solo debut by the former Morcheeba singer.

Starsailor, “On the Outside”

(Adrenaline) — The well-regarded British quartet dropped out of the major label world for its third album.

Various Artists, “Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys” (Anti-) — U2’s Bono, Sting, Lou Reed, Lucinda Williams, actor John C. Reilly and others hoist the grog and toast Davey Jones’ locker on this spirited two-CD set.

M. Ward, “Post-War” (Merge) — The Portland, Ore., troubadour recruited his touring band and pal Neko Case to help him make his fi fth album.

Nancy Wilson, “Turned to Blue”

(MCG Jazz) — The veteran vocalist covers ballads and big band staples along with four new songs — including the title track, which adapts a Maya Angelou poem.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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