Sasha Frere-Jones

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The Voice of America

Everyone gets a voice but nobody ever gets a second one, any more than anyone gets a good face-lift. The pop artist’s voice is generally handicapped by people better versed in statistical probability than patience. “Neil Young! He can‘t make a good electronic album! He plays the acoustic guitar!” But......
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Can You See Me?

”You can‘t see me,“ MCs like to say. ”My skills lift me up above your mortal sense,“ they mean to say. Joi, an R&B singer with an MC’s sense of entitlement and balls, has been literally invisible for most of her career. If you enter the name ”Joi“ at Amazon.com......
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It Ain’t Dark Down There At All

Photo by Jonathan Mannion Some songs are made to pre-existing specs that, within reason, anyone could follow. Take two of my favorite self-referential tracks this year, Jagged Edge’s “Where’s the Party At?” and Jadakiss’ “Knock Yourself Out.” Except for a few language quirks, these songs could have been released three......
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Funk Fatale

I love Destiny’s Child. Not in some condescending indie-rock foo-foo “my pet pop band” way, but truly, madly, deeply. I love D.C. because they sing about things I can understand, rock genuinely without anyone‘s urging and are musically unpredictable. When they’re in bounce-and-berate mode, they‘re somewhere between Husker Du and......
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Big Weird Fun

Some people fear the electric music Miles Davis made in the 1970s. Jazz fans think of it as their hero’s Vietnam, melody and tone sacrificed in the electric mud; young rockers fear it’s all wanking they won’t understand; and normal folks wonder why they’d listen to anyone do anything for......
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The World Outside, Again

It was back at the end of march and, as weeks go, a big one in the world outside. Bill Clinton, not nursing his lame leg but out there throttling history, tried to broker a tentative cease-bully between India and Pakistan, who were beginning to like the idea of hating......
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Let’s Get Sort of Physical, for a Moment

Trip-hop was not a felicitous name. The first artists to find it stuck to their shoes -- Depth Charge, Tricky, Portishead, Massive Attack -- all had unique sonic IDs (they get their own sections in the store) and directions to their destinations, none obvious. When British crate fillers like James......
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