August Greene, August Greene (self-released) –
August Greene, August Greene
The rapper Common may be overexposed in the rush of Microsoft ads and Oscar appearances, but his new supergroup with producers Karriem Riggins and Robert Glasper cannot be ignored. Common’s lyrics are astute and biting, while retaining his constant positivity, and the musical accompaniment is a sophisticated ambience that approaches free-jazz stylings at times.
The Decemberists, I’ll Be Your Girl (Capitol) –
The Decemberists, I’ll Be Your Girl
No, this is not The Decemberists’ “disco album” — it’s merely the first time vocalist Colin Meloy has allowed Jenny Conlee to emphasize synthesizer without the Portland band falling victim to pomposity. Meloy keeps the lyrics acerbic and silly at the same time, while producer John Congleton turns up the beats to create the most fun of the band’s eight studio efforts.