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Wednesday, April 19, 2006 09:50 am

Vinyl Static

Ice-T tears up Club 217 on Saturday; also Abstract Giants and Josh Ritter’s latest

SHOWS-A-GO-GO! The band is big, and the sound is bigger — if only the Abstract Giants could get a break. The eight-member Chicago-based hip-hop band is well known around Chicago’s established scene, but hasn’t gained much buzz outside the Windy City. It’s too bad. The Giants have the originality of the early Roots; their bass lines boogie like Sly Stone and the MC triple threat works. In hip-hop tradition, any MC who brings something worthwhile to the mic can stay — and each Giant’s contribution is legit. The violin (!), percussion, drums, bass, guitars and Abstract MCs’ playful rhymes stir up jazz and funk with hip hop making music that’s fresh and familiar. The Giants invade Jazz Central Station on Saturday, April 22. This week, the convergence of RJD2 and Blueprint into the celebrated Rhymesayers collaboration Soul Position, takes over Blueberry Hill in St. Louis on Friday, April 21.
GOLDEN TICKET: The one and only Ice-T will undoubtedly tear up the mic when he hits the stage at Club 217 on Saturday, April 29. Will you be there to see it? This rare performance by one of hip-hop’s most talented MCs, known for his on-point, rapid-fire rhymes, is a one-night-only shot and fans would be wise to buy their tickets in advance. Pick up yours at Terry’s Men’s Wear, Penny Lane, Best Western Hotel, the Artist Edge Tattoo, and Club 217 — $20 in advance, $25 at the door (should any tickets be left to sell).
CD EXCHANGE: If Sufjan Stevens is the peaceful king, Josh Ritter is the tortured prince. Ritter is known for his unhappy songs, but that’s what makes his new album, The Animal Years (released April 11), pleasantly heartbreaking. It’s easy to compare Ritter’s vocals to those of such melancholy babies as Nick Drake, and Ritter’s guitar skills are nothing exciting; it’s the lyrics that rip at your heartstrings. The first single, “Girl in the War,” provides biblical, war, and pop-culture images — an impressive feat. Popular retro quartet Starlight Mints unleashes a fourth sweet treat, Drowaton, on April 25). British electro-hip-hop whiz kid Mike Skinner, better known as The Streets, releases his third studio effort, The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, on April 25.
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