[ disc-o-scope ]
Musical comedy albums will always have an accelerated diminishing-returns problem, as each once-sharp bit of wit gets dulled by repetition. But give Stephen Lynch this: Lion (What Are) is pretty damn funny on the first lap, and pretty damn pretty after that. In fact, if it weren’t for some jolting lines (“I’d rather eat a hobo’s asshole” comes to mind), these folk-ballads could’ve snuck into the rotation of some exhausted overnight adult-contemporary DJ. Lynch plays the TLA March 13 (livenation.com).
Hyped-up unearthings of vintage funk/soul “lost classics” are a dime a dozen nowadays, but it’s not often you encounter something as truly strange and striking as the first two LPs from Virginia eccentric Jerry Williams Jr., aka Swamp Dogg. Total Destruction to Your Mind (1970) and Rat On! (1971) — remastered/reissued on Alive Naturalsound — make good on their gonzo titles with faintly absurd yet salient satire on war, consumerism and race politics all backed by roiling, Stax-style funk.
—K. Ross Hoffman
Swede-pop sweethearts bumming over the relative silence of The Tough Alliance, Studio et al. should take heart in the lusty return of their spiritual forebears: indie-dance darlings and Gothenberg hometown heroes The Embassy. Sweet Sensation (International) finds the duo partying like it’s 1989 (again), drifting from Madchester to Majorca on breezily unbuttoned house grooves and lusciously thick, New Orderish basslines. Glinting acoustic strums bring the soft-focus sunshine, and singer Fredrik Lindson’s wan, perennially flat intonation keeps it effete.
—K. Ross Hoffman
Looking for uplifting affirmations? Move along. However, if you appreciate precise doses of the sorrier side of life, written with economy and clarity, then Gurf Morlix is your man. See “My Life’s Been Taken” from his latest collection, Gurf Morlix Finds the Present Tense (Rootball). Morlix is not a showy poet, but he can sing from inside the head of an admitted killer. “Yeah I did it, guilty as can be/ Disregard for life in the second degree. But my reasons. they’ll never understand/ What goes through the mind of a desperate man.” By the end only the hardest listener doesn’t feel sorry for the perp.