I'm convinced: The day of the deejay is dying - and with Fatboy Slam's newest record, Palookaville, I couldn't be surer of it. Here we have Norman Cook, one of the best house DJs worldwide -- a master of the turntables, a prodigy of cut-and-paste sampling. Maybe that was the case around the time of Cook's Better Living Through Chemistry and his contribution to The Essential Selection. But a departure from his trademark style started to come through on his 2000 album, Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars. That album was a mixture of Cook's cunning combinations of vocals with thick beats and samples. It was different, but there was still a lot of Fatboy to be heard throughout it. That's not the case with Palookaville - he's begun to rely on guest appearances and star vocalists, something you'd never find on his electronic-heavy earlier albums. With vocals dominating each simplistic track, the album is bogged down with rootsy, reggae undertones. It's as if the album is only featuring Fatboy Slim, with his talent taking a backseat to those big stars infiltrating this record. --Leah Sottile
The Tigers Have Spoken FOUR STARS
Was I the only one who worried when
Neko Case started spending so much time with those New Pornographers? Don't get me wrong - I love the New Pornographers and I love 'em something fierce. Seeing them - aided by Miss Case -- in the Gorge was one of the highlights of my year. But what would happen to "country Neko" - the twangy siren of Blacklisted and Furnace Room Lullaby -- whose big throaty voice and honky tonk noir would be sorely missed if absorbed entirely into power pop?
Lucky for me, she's still doing her thing and The Tigers Have Spoken is a lovely - if too short at 35 minutes - collection recorded at live shows in Toronto and Chicago. Backed by her usual band, the Sadies, Case is at once raw and resonant here. From the sweet innocence of "Soulful Shade of Blue" to the revival-meetin' joy of "This Little Light" - this is a lighter side of Case. There's darkness here, sure - the title track is as devastating as it is melodic - but even that is dissolved by the final track, in the priceless, barely audible off-the-cuff remarks of "Tigers Are Noble." -- Sheri Boggs