Charles Aaron



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    Jay-Z Proves He's King of the Bonnaroo Headliners

    Perhaps the loftiest praise Jay-Z could receive for Saturday's prodigious gig at Bonnaroo's What stage was that he didn't miss Beyonce (who was spotted on site, but didn't perform) and that he wasn't overshadowed by Stevie Wonder (who'd wowed the crowd on the same stage a couple of hours prior). Rather, Jay made a boisterous case that every major worldwide music festival should probably keep him on retainer as headliner for the foreseeable future.

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    Kings of Leon Star at Bonnaroo

    A friend tells a story of volunteering at a small club in Athens, Ga., in the early days of Kings of Leon, before they were even stars in the U.K., and the band rolled up in their van the afternoon before a show. She went out to ask if there was anything they needed, and one of the boys grabbed a bag of dirty laundry, tossed it at her feet, and walked off into the club without a word.

  • Chemical Brothers, 'Further' (Freestyle Dust/Astralwerks)

    It's not dismissive to say the Chems' last essential tracks were tribal-trance pounder "It Began in Afrika" and majestic synth geyser "Star Guitar" (from 2002's Come With Us). The nu-rave generation subsequently snorted traces of their style, and the duo settled into a routine of zeitgeisty pop ephemera and functional dance-floor bustle. Their seventh studio album falls in the latter category -- steadfastly chirping crescendos, whinnying breakbeat stampedes, and the odd evocative vocal. Opener "Snow" and closer "Wonders of the Deep" threaten to swell into Spiritualized rave epics, then just fade gently. BUY: Amazon

  • Delorean, 'Subiza' (True Panther/Matador)

    Like so many indie rockers looking for a perfectly beatific dance-floor escape from stiff riffs and wipe-me yelps, this Barcelona foursome's version of clubby bliss has an unrequited tinge. The morning-after descent always haunts the moony ascent. But on palpitating pas de deux like "Stay Close" and "Grow," the drum programming and synth ripples are so lithely calibrated (shades of late-90s tech house) that they massage the heartsick, pitchshifted coos just so. Like LCD Soundsytem chillaxing in a beach chaise, Delorean integrate live-band and studio-geek chops so you never wonder where the acupressure bass lines originated. ?BUY:?iTunes??Amazon

  • Big K.R.I.T., 'K.R.I.T. Wuz Here' (Self-Released)

    This Mississippi MC/producer's bracing debut never lets you forget he hails from hip-hop's gulag (David Banner being the only escapee). And though he feels slighted-"Guess I didn't swag enough / Stupid fruity pebble chain Louis bag enough"-K.R.I.T.'s far from hidebound. Boasting an array of his own sophisticated beats, he'll "pop that pussy" over a bouncy drone ("Country Shit"), then go deep on causes and effects ("As Small as a Giant," "Children of the World," "They Got Us") with a nod to UGK and OutKast's contemplative hustle. "Hometown Hero," which riffs on Friday Night Lights' Boobie Miles, is the sort of cinematic narrative most rappers never approach. FREE

  • Lil Wayne, 'Rebirth' (Cash Money/Universal)

    It's perhaps the greatest musical tantrum of 2010. Over a nagging synthesizer maelstrom, Lil Wayne bellows like a man facing down a wind machine on a cliff in a Roland Emmerich flick: "Bitch, I'm-a pick the world up and I'm-a drop it on your fuckin' head / And I could die now, rebirth, motherfucker / Hop up in my spaceship and leave earth, motherfucker / I'm gone." Then a cold and lonely Eminem shows up to scare the shit out of whoever's left in the room with an incendiary I'm-back-from-pharmaceutical-Hell guest threat/verse. Yet this awesomely delirious moment occurs on perhaps the most misbegotten musical pratfall of 2010.

  • Cornershop, 'Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast' (Ample Play)

    In the mid-to-late '90s, nobody smudged rock's borders more artfully than Cornershop's Tjinder Singh, mingling punky cheek, Indian drone, hip-hop sampladelia, and electronic bump. Here, on the band's first album in seven years, he returns with the profoundly playful shrug of a cosmopolitan busker. "Who Fingered Rock'n'Roll" pulls off a wry, sitar-driven Exile cock-up while "The Roll Off Characteristics (of History in the Making)" bubbles with rollicking piano and a biting, inscrutable chorus ("War ain't nothin' but a technical plip-plop"). Singh's songwriting meanders at times, but he's never less than a captivating host. BUY:Amazon

  • MGMT, 'Congratulations' (Columbia)

    MGMT, 'Congratulations' (Columbia)

    The closing and title track of MGMT's second album could be a career coda -- a tender acoustic elegy with ornate keyboard sprinkles, and frontman Andrew VanWyngarden playing an arch dandy resigned to a life of half-assed guilt assuaged only by the ministrations of phonies and lackeys. He admits to being "dead in the water," a blasé narcissist who'd "rather dissolve than have you ignore me." Since before most of us little Ziggy Stardusts were crawling on our knees toward it, the rock-star dream machine has been sold as a seductive caution -- charismatic naïf seizes public's imagination with undeniable anthem, gorges on fame's spoils, crashes tawdrily. Each new generation throws its version of the mythic party, then we sift through the rehab refuse for life lessons, fashion tips, and tabloid nosh. So what of VanWyngarden and his partner Ben Goldwasser?

  • Das Racist, 'Shut Up, Dude' (Mishka/Greedhead)

    Tagged as "joke rap" after Perez Hilton stumbled onto their dada one-off "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell," Brooklyn-based MC duo Himanshu Suri and Victor Vazquez are actually hyper-earnest tacticians, using hip-hop's language of identity politricks to sift through pop culture's perpetual spew. Rakim once mused, "You're the journal?/ I'm the journalist," and on this riotously referential, 17-track mixtape, Das Racist rap like reporters issuing Twittery soliloquies on whatever's melting in America's porta-potty, from Kierkegaard to QueensBoulevard and Dinesh D'Souza to Lollapalooza.

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    R.I.P.: Barry Hannah, Southern Writer Extraordinaire

    With his short stories and novels, Mississippi's Barry Hannah -- who passed away Monday of a heart attack at age 67 -- captured the disorienting jerks and reverberating thuds and bewildering empties of the "contemporary" South better than just about any author of the past 40 years. For young readers growing up in the region, his wittily twisted yet finely crafted prose often fucked with our heads in a way that felt entirely accurate to how life constantly did the same.

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