Same !@#$ Different Day
Lyrics Born posesses a voice that crackles and glows. Call him the Otis Redding of hip-hop, representing the vanguard of the San Francisco Bay area's progressively intelligent scene. On this collection of remixed tunes from his 2003 album Later that Day, he's joined by national and international superstars KRS-One, Dan the Automator, DJ Shadow and Morcheeba. The result is a cocktail of brisket-bumping deep grooves and creative lyrics. And on LB's sing-song funk numbers, like "I Changed My Mind," with dance floor veterans the Stereo MCs manning the decks, it adds up to smoldering soul. Fans of conscious and funky hip-hop acts like Jurassic 5 and Blackalicious shouldn't sleep on this one. -- Dan Wilcock
Are You Wigglin?
Kill Rock Stars
What, Gravy Train!!!!? You say you like sex? Well, don't most people? Oh, but you really like sex. Really, really like it. All right, I get it, Gravy Train!!!!. I get it! Are You Wigglin? would have been a great album about three years ago, when everyone was hopping aboard the electroclash bus. The Train haven't veered too much from their original formula of keyboard bounciness, so you pretty much listen to the same song over and over, beating the dead '80s horse. Their lyrics still are outlandishly perverse, delivered in giggly cheerleader chants by singers Chunx and Funx (backed by boys Hunx and Junx). Think Le Tigre without the agenda. Think Bratmobile without the spy-punk guitar. Now think about getting off at the next station. -- Kara Luger
The Cosmic Game
If politically revolutionary music ever has been more sensual than Thievery Corporation, please let me know (my e-mail address is toward the front). The Cosmic Game doesn't employ nearly as much sitar as former albums, but most of the tracks here do include more vocals. On that count, the most notable (and perhaps only) distinction of Game is that it turns most lyrics over to men and somehow maintains the sexiness of their previous material. The Flaming Lips and Perry Farrell are welcome new collaborators, but old standbys Gunjan, Verny Varela and David Byrne really propel this album into the cosmos. Byrne's "The Heart's a Lonely Hunter" is especially inviting. A ride on this spaceship is so smooth you won't want to get off. -- Vanessa Martinez