CDs Nuts

Kingdom Come

On his latest, Jay-Z refers to himself as the “Mike Jordan of recordin’.” And I’m glad he does, too, because that frees me to make the hilarious observation that Kingdom Come is like the season His Airness came out of retirement to play for the Washington Wizards. Sure, he’s still one of the best in the game, but Jay-Z’s not quite what he once was. His flow’s still brilliant, but his age is betrayed in the weirdness of hearing him rapping about PSPs and MySpace. While the awkward Coldplay mashup “Beach Chair” will probably get the most press, give Hova credit as the only emcee ever to namecheck both My Chemical Romance and Nelson Mandela on the same album. The Jigga Man’s aging, but let him speak for himself: “I’m young enough to know what car to buy, yet old enough to know not to put rims on it.” At least he’s not trying to play baseball.

Joanna Newsom
(Drag City)

Anybody who says he doesn’t care for this album probably never made it all the way through. Not because it’s impossible not to like if you give it a chance, but because its five tracks stretch to more than an hour. There’s no feeling quite like thinking “Only Skin” is winding down at five minutes and discovering there are 12 minutes left. While her unconventional voice suggests the rapping granny from The Wedding Singer recast as a harp-strumming hippie, give her credit: Newsom could’ve cashed in for a freaky-voiced novelty hit à la “Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm;” instead, she opted for the less-accessible route.  Backed by a Van Dyke Parks-conducted orchestra, Newsom relates the Animal Farm reminiscence “Monkey and Bear” and delivers the beautiful radio nightmare “Emily,” a 12-minute song with the hook: “The meteorite is the source of the light, and the meteor’s just what we see, and the meteoroid is the stone that’s devoid of the fire that’s propelled it to thee.”

The Pick of Destiny
Tenacious D

When Jack Black prays to Dio “I need a tight compadre who can teach me how to rock. My father thinks you’re evil, but, man, he can suck a cock,” all but the D faithful should’ve turned away at Track 2. True, the debut-equaling movie soundtrack apes every ’70s metal touchstone album from Tommy to Dark Side of the Moon to whatever the fuck sounds like “Papagenu  (He’s My Sassafrass).” And sure, the songs convey the power of rock, from its capacity to pay the rent to its ability to save you from becoming Satan’s bitch, but can everyone really dig tasty grooves like “The Government Totally Sucks,” which reveals that if Ben Franklin were alive today, “the government would fuck him up his righteous A”? Let’s hope so.