Dudley Perkins

Expressions (2012 A.U.)

(Stones Throw)

Some artists just cannot sing. I don't necessarily mean they have a funny voice or talk-sing or are

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Dudley Perkins

Also: Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Rough Guide to Bhangra Dance

Dudley Perkins

Expressions (2012 A.U.)

(Stones Throw)

Some artists just cannot sing. I don't necessarily mean they have a funny voice or talk-sing or are too histrionic or yell too much; what I mean is that they try singing and screw it up. Whether or not Dudley Perkins is aware of this particular problem seems immaterial, though everyone else noticed when A Lil' Light dropped in '03 and elicited copious comparisons to infamous schizophrenic bellower Wesley Willis. But the MC also known as "Declaime" is an outsider vocalist for reasons that don't rely on scatology and mental illness. Expressions' baffling charm is a sort of ramshackle free-verse stonerism, less interested in riding a beat precisely or hitting notes cleanly than in toying with repeated R&B tropes like they were rolled-up boogers. "Funky Dudley" is a stilted meditation on classic parliamentary exhortations ("funk upon a time . . . funkin' with your time . . . funkin' on your time . . . whoa, whoa whoa whoa"); "Come Here My Dear" is a dopey slow jam with Hallmark lyrics interrupted by hacking coughs; "Dear God" disorients with a series of rambling religious inquiries that eventually reach a shocking conclusion beneath the warped-vinyl burble, "I want to get high." Madlib does the beats, so it's bound to get attention, and it works to a point: The resin-stained, often-muffled soul/fusion production gives Expressions the feeling of a particularly weird demo. It'd be difficult to think of a better backdrop for a vocal track that sounds halfway to distraction—all that's missing is the tape hiss and the click of the boom box's pause button between songs. NATE PATRIN

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Show Your Bones

(Interscope)

Show Your Bones is "something like a phenomenon," to quote a Karen O pop-culture reference early in the record: a storm that continually brews while never growing into a full-force presence. Except for the intriguing addition of acoustic guitars on a few tracks, the follow-up to 2003's gold Fever to Tell sounds pretty much like you'd expect it to. But for all the skewed rock structures and new-wave filigree, Bones feels like a set of outtakes, with everything in its place but little definition beyond the marketing machine's need for a "new Yeah Yeah Yeahs album." On song after song, Karen O relies on her mannerisms, substituting meaningful-sounding but empty rhymes for her past straightforwardness—anyone waiting for another "They don't love you like I love you," "I got a man who makes me wanna kill," or "It's our time to be hated" will be disappointed. When she does allow a piece of direct storytelling, on the breakup saga "Mysteries," the effect is ruined by the band's aimless rockabilly-ish churn. The last two tracks, "Warrior" and "Turn Into," finally reveal the touching, pensive Karen O of previous triumphs. The rest of these tunes will serve their purpose as concert-ready numbers for fans to raise their fists and stomp to, but their effect on disc is woefully listless. Can the Yeah Yeah Yeahs truly be this weary already? RICKEY WRIGHT

Yeah Yeah Yeahs play the Paramount Theatre, 911 Pine St., 206-467-5510, www.theparamount.com. $22.50. All ages. 8 p.m. Tues., April 25.

VARIOUS ARTISTS

The Rough Guide to Bhangra Dance

(World Music Network)

Like Teletubby Dipsy, R&B singer Ne-Yo, the Jack Russell terrier that upstaged Jim Carrey in The Mask, and countless other creatures, Manak-e out-rocks Hawthorne Heights. But that hapless Dayton, Ohio, rock band shouldn't feel bad. Manak-e does it to everyone on The Rough Guide to Bhangra Dance, too—probably without breaking a sweat, maybe not intentionally—with "Paisa" ("Money"). All the singer did was replace the U.K. single version's defining Usher sample with a guitar part. Not the compilation's only one, by any means. Originally a style of folk music universally popular in rural Punjab—India's breadbasket state—bhangra started soaking up Western instruments and tendencies shortly after England's Punjabi- immigrant population explosion began more than 50 years ago. But "Paisa"'s guitar is different from its clean counterparts, just nasty enough to give bhangra lovers a little dark-side tingle while making most world-music heads think they're hearing the most metal thing since Remain in Light. While its 15 tracks skew decidedly 21st-ward, the compilation includes an exemplary old-school acoustic banger, Madan Bata Sindhu's "Mahndi/Madhorama Pencha." Sung and played by village women—traditionally during a henna hand-tattooing celebration important to any rural bride's prenuptials—the medley weaves elaborate call-and-response vocal patterns around and through a pulsating frame built with nuanced hand claps and a drum or two. Easily the disc's most bare-bones interlude, the track offers a handy point of origin and reference, its sacrum-flapping rhythms and hell-bent-for-paradise melodies reflected even on electron-infused stuff redolent with house or hip-hop influences—not to mention "Paisa." ROD SMITH

 
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