CD Reviews

BusdriverRoadKillOvercoat

(Epitaph)

Busdriver's messages are easily relatable—once you decipher his vocal delivery. When the Los Angeles–based rapper presents his most rapid-fire rhyming, as he does on album opener "Casting Agent and Cowgirls," only those attuned to the flow of linguistic innovators like E-40 (the Bay Area rapper with the tongue-twisting jawbonics) can decipher the lessons at hand. Like 40, Busdriver has a penchant for underused or otherwise creative words, which creates confusion. But where his aural innovation could alienate some ears, taking the time to comprehend Busdriver is a rewarding venture. Despite his language, Busdriver often has the average Joe in mind. When he sings, "Recreational paranoia is the sport of now, so kill your employer" ("Kill Your Employer"), over a bed of frenetic video-game bleeps, his postal rage is more of a common denominator than your usual tales of street thuggery. His metaphors for "the man" are also considerably smarter than what's typically on mainstream radio, which would never play a track as intellectually challenging as "The Troglodyte Wins." Subject matter isn't Busdriver's only departure from mainstream hip-hop; RoadKillOvercoat embraces a soundtrack that blinks from techno to punk without losing continuity. It's a pleasantly uncommon effort that reveals more layers and flavors with repeated listens. TAMARA PALMER

Listen to a sample of "Casting Agent and Cowgirls" from RoadKillOvercoat.

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The Earlies

The Enemy Chorus

(Secretly Canadian)

The fact that the Earlies made a second album is pretty remarkable; having band members scattered on both sides of the Atlantic must make songwriting rather difficult, yet they make it look easy. As in, bands that do get to practice and do get to write in the same room aren't remotely close to getting results like this. It'd also be important to note that the Earlies themselves didn't sound this polished last time. They brought in numerous guests on this album (no one you know), expanding their range of sound. It's mostly trippy electro-prog from the get-go, but the folkie instrumental "Gone for the Most Part" suggests some Pink Floyd–meet–Mercury Rev jam sessions, and "The Ground We Walk On" is a beautiful ballad, on par with your favorite '80s song. Midway through, the Earlies change direction on us, with the horn-laced funk jam "Foundation and Earth." By the time you get to "Breaking Point," you've been led in so many directions, the sitar that dominates this last cut seems wholly normal. While it was cute to think this "band of globalization" was a nice little story a few years ago, they're now actually showing us they've got some depth. ANNIE ZALESKI

Listen to a sample of "No Love in Your Heart" from The Enemy Chorus.

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