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Extra Golden: “Anyango”
Just in case you were eagerly awaiting East Africa’s answer to Physical Graffiti, it has arrived. Washington, D.C./Nairobi, Kenya-based Extra Golden splice Jimmy Page-style slide guitar into an exuberant benga rhythm with a few psychedelic surprises tucked into the last quarter. In terms of East-meets-West rock, it, at the very least, kicks “Kashmir” in the ass.
Lady Sovereign: “So Human”
Normally rather feisty, Lady Sovereign opens up about her celebrity-meltdown over a rhythm and hook borrowed from The Cure’s “Close to Me.” But when it comes to mope-rock, Sov is a lighter hand than Robert Smith, and evidently more of a Tom Hanks fan, too. “You shoulda seen me running from the studio like Forrest Gump,” she sings.
The Decemberists: “Hazards of Love 1”
From the folksy drones to the open-tuned acoustic guitar, it’s obvious that the Decemberist’s Colin Meloy has been spending a little bit of time with Fairport Convention, or maybe just loitering around the Ren faire. But as a lyricist, he’s his own egghead, dropping nickel-weight vocab words and storybook rhymes like “You learn soon enough/The prettiest whistle won’t wrestle the thistles undone.”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs: “Zero”
Like Radiohead and Liars before them, Yeah Yeah Yeahs try hurling their guitars out the window in the hope of finding a game-changing new sound—or in this case, an OK electroclash tune. Synthesizers hum and buzz as front woman Karen O moans. She hasn’t lost her touch, and can still make lazy lyrics like “Shake it like a ladder to the sun/make me feel like a madman on the run” sound sexy.