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Thursday, June 8, 2006 10:11 am

Vinyl Static

Jurassic 5, Sonic Youth, Abstract Giants, Chief Xcel, and Gift of Gab

HIGH FIVES: Desk Vinyl Static is what the Dubya’s dad might call a “kinder, gentler music critic.” When the message floated in that Jurassic 5 was finally dropping the follow-up to Quality Control and Power in Numbers, this fan wanted to like “Work It Out,” the lead single, bad. The song kicks off in perfect old school fashion, with a heavy marching-band drumbeat and J5 counting it off with a “1-2, 1-2,” only to usher in the surprise of a lifetime: the clumsy warble of one Dave Matthews. The ringleader of his self-titled ensemble has certainly had his day, but in Matthews’ twilight years, his groggy vocals conjure an unwelcome image of the awkward dreads Julia Roberts wore in the video for his band’s single “Dreamgirl.” J5’s uplifting tune has its highlights — the boys’ lyrical skills haven’t waned, despite their four-year absence, especially the robust bass of Chali 2na. And hearing a radio-ready hip-hop tune without a mention of cars and jewelry is more than refreshing. Subtract the chorus and add a little kick in the rear to the smooth-jazz underlay, and you’ve got classic J5. The album, Feedback, drops July 25, and the remaining tracks on the disk sound promising. “Where It At” features a cameo by Mos Def, and the party jam “Red Hot” sounds like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five goodness. “Work It Out” sounds like a Dave Matthews Band tune with J5 guest vocals, instead of the other way around.
SUPERSONIC: It’s a bird; it’s a plane; it’s an experimental guitar-rock band from the 1990s! It’s Sonic Youth! Unlike the ’80s supergroups that broke up but later decided to reunite for the sake of cashing in with reunion tours, and unlike the ’90s wonders that continue to pump out the same ol’, same ol’, Sonic Youth continues to evolve. This week, Thurston Moore and company unleash Rather Ripped, and they’re supporting the album with a tour of the country that stops nowhere near us, unless you’ve captured a golden ticket to Lollapalooza.
SHOWS-A-GO-GO! Central Illinois plays host this week to a couple of exciting hip-hop performances, starting with Chicago consortium Abstract Giants on Saturday, June 10, at Jazz Central Station (Hilton Springfield, 700 E. Adams St., 217-789-1530). Chief Xcel and Gift of Gab, better known as the duo Blackalicious, stop Wednesday, June 14, at the Canopy Club in Urbana.
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