The Songs We Can't Escape

Phrazes for the Young? Based on this first single, very literally so: double- or triple-entendre advice, depending on who's listening, that may or may not be part of the playbook the big-time music business should've fed through a paper shredder a few years back en masse. Of course, Julian holds forth with elan while doing battle with frantic synth-pop hordes from the fifth crab nebula: They're brandishing blinding headbands and impudent leg warmers, he's imperviously bored. A-

Kid Sister feat. Kanye West
"Pro Nails"

Oh, Chicago. In this case, less isn't more. More like: less, as less, is less. Kid Sister's nail-clinic squad brings all the she-MCs-in-waiting to the yard, Kanye wishes MC Hammer had a bigger dick. Not a single, barely a song. C-

Needle Gun

For these Baltimorians, inscrutability apparently ain't what it used to be, so even as their Myspace dispatches waiver between "we're kinda doing stuff" and "we're kind of on a break," Afternoon Computer Umbrage—which boasts at least two Nautical Almanac connections—shrugs off the kitchen-sink mystery they started off with. "Dirge" seethes curiously if uncertainly, though, like Needle Gun fed distortion through an electric rubber-band harp they built at home. Almost turns into the Beatles "All My Loving" at the end there. B


Underknown Baltimore MC wants to be Young Jeezy—right down to the signature ad-lib, even—isn't, yet somehow encapsulates The Recession in a single, roving bit of urban fiction. Or maybe it's all true—maybe the quick-hit vignettes of folks struggling to get by by any means necessary spit over this taut, nagging beat is actual. If that's so, better yet. B+

Alec K. Redfearn & the Seizures

Oh, you doubting Thomases, you. Questioning the conviction of these Providence, Rhode Island, furies? Don't you dare. Don't believe that sans-guitar, accordion-centric experimental rock can get crunk, bring the Fiddler on the Roof ruckus, burrow a bloody hole through your mid-morning reverie? You will. B+