by Luke Baumgarten and Andrew Matson & r & & r & Danielson Ships 3.5 STARS & r & Art pop is art pop, right? You know what to expect. It'll be like pop, except artsy. It's one of the easier genres to prepare oneself for. A disc that labels itself as art pop will either be proggy and digressive or twee and cutesy, with perhaps a hint of subversion. Ships is mostly the latter: highly melodic, upbeat and childlike throughout, Brother Daniel's compositions have the tortured edge of growing up as a freak in a farm town.
The album falters when it mismanages this tension, either going too cutesy (as on "Ship the Majestic Suffix," which is strangely Sufjan Stevens-y) or foregoing melody for meditative texture ("My Lion Sleeps Tonight"). Those songs that ply the midground between these extremes are a powerful metaphor of child as merchant ship, alone in an expansive sea, beset by the storms of growing, the barbarism of other child-ships, and the fear of an unseen destination. -- Luke Baumgarten & r & Check Out: "Did I Step On Your Trumpet"
Roc 'C'All Questions Answered 4 STARS & r & Stones Throw Records is a forward-thinking label, but they aren't trying to be highbrow. Persistently championed by snooty vinyl fiends the world over, Stones Throw has taken on a mystique it never intended to foster. Setting the record straight, the new Roc 'C' LP arrives like a thug in an art gallery, and if he makes the other patrons uncomfortable ... good.
Straight out of Oxnard, Calif., Roc 'C' steps fully correct with All Questions Answered, a disc full of hard rhymes and def beats. Oh No handles the production bulk, turning in beat after beat of bugged-out, hard-edged snap-crackle -- seriously impressive stuff from a guy who loves exceeding expectations. Rule of thumb? Deep stacks = neck snaps. Add that to the fact that Roc 'C' raps like Game at his best (sans all the verbal star-screwing) and you've a good thing going. This is much-needed proof that the streets listen to Jean Grae and gangstas still care about mic skills. -- Andrew Matson & r & Check Out: "Hear Me Now"
The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.