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by Ted S. McGregor Jr. and Andrew Matson & r &





John Legend


Once Again


5 stars





& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & here are times we need to escape through music. The mid-1970s was one of those times, and we got disco and other stuff you might call cheesy. With Vietnam still bitter, we needed some big, tasty hunks of cheese. Today seems a lot like then, but instead of Marvin Gaye and Barry White, the 2007 soundtrack is coming from John Legend.





Once Again is pure old school -- unabashed make-out music. But Legend takes it up a notch from the roots, with lush, impeccable arrangements via some of today's hottest producers (Kanye West on "Heaven" and Will.I.Am on "Save Room.")





He may have a couple misses, but "Each Day Gets Better" is my new favorite song, and "Coming Home" is anti-war without pounding you over the head. By zigging while everyone else is zagging, John Legend is giving us just what we need.





-- TED S. McGREGOR JR.





DOWNLOAD: "Each Day Gets Better"





The Saturday Knights


The Saturday Knights EP


4 stars





& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & S & lt;/span & ea-Tac rap act the Saturday Knights (emcees Tilson, Barfly, and DJ Suspense) love playing the fool. Their self-titled debut EP, especially compared to Seattle's highest profile rap acts (humorless class warriors Blue Scholars and Common Market), is four tracks of thoroughly entertaining hip-hop, an object lesson in skilled idiocy.





The EP's leadoff, "Motorin'", opens with a bright, crackly guitar strum. Then Tilson and Barfly hit with the annoying/awesome hook, a "ba ba ba ba ba" refrain as silly as it is effective. Eventually breaking down into pounding doo-wop, the emcees harmonize in fearless falsettos, building physical momentum that explodes back into the opening theme. It is exhilarating.





Smart emcees, Tilson and Barfly outdo each other with breath control and self-deprecating one-liners, but, as evidenced on sure-fire hit "45," primarily aim to stick in your head. Over meaty organ stabs, the song's chorus goes: "I was on the dancefloor, and the DJ dropped my 45, I was so hyped that I dropped my 45, and everybody just ran, ran, ran, ran." It's an instant anthem.


--ANDREW MATSON





DOWNLOAD: "Motorin'"
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