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Tuesday Reviewsday: Jack White, Matisyahu, Parquet Courts and more




Jack White performs during Brendan Benson and Friends at the Ryman Auditorium on December 18, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Jack White performs during Brendan Benson and Friends at the Ryman Auditorium on December 18, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

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Time for Tuesday Reviewsday, our weekly new music segment. Joining us this week is Shirley Halperin, music editor at The Hollywood Reporter and Chris Martins, news editor at Spin Magazine

Shirley's Picks

Artist: Matisyahu
Album: Akeda (pronouncd ah-kay-duh)
Songs: “Watch the Walls Melt Down" “Confidence” 

When Matisyahu first came on the scene a decade ago, his rap felt like a shtick — a Hasidic Jew singing Reggae – and his first album, live at Stubb’s, an iconic barbeque joint in Austin, an oxymoron.
 
In the five albums since, he’s dropped a lot of what first put him on the radar: he no longer sports the traditional beard and attire of the pious --  “Got it on the inside, don’t need to wear it out.”
 
And his brand of hip-hop has also evolved – but sonically. Check out the wall of horns that kicks off.
 
Have to give Matisyahu credit for being way ahead of the curve – right now on the pop charts pop-reggae is making its presence known with groups like Magic! and the Kongos. In a way, Matisyahu was truly prescient.
 
Elsewhere on Akeda, Matthew Miller, aka Matisyahu, looks inward with themes of isolation, emotional conflict -- the bio that accompanies the album doesn’t mince words. “Processing complex feelings of betrayal from former friends and fans, as well the breakdown of longstanding relationships.”
 
He still references his religion, name-checks Fred Flinstone (for keeping his feet planted to the ground) and comes full circle with a song like “Confidence” featuring reggae artist Collie Buddz.  

Artist: Jack White
Album: Lazaretto
Songs: “Just One Drink” “Lazaretto” 

And now for orthodoxy of another kind.
 
Jack White has taken upon himself to preserve the sanctity of music-making down to its most primitive form: analog on wax. But where he’ll usually spend only a few week making most of his records, this one took 18 months but actually goes back 19 years.
 
According to White’s own telling of how his “second LP as a solo artist and his 45th LP as a producer” came together, the album was inspired by a pile of one-page short stories and plays that he found in his attic. Written in Detroit when he was 19, half his current age of 38, Jack White reconstructed stories from snippets of these pages and transformed them into characters and songs.
 
In the notes that accompany the album, White goes to great pains to explain that the album is genre-less and that’s certainly true of the title track, "Lazaretto."
 
As if to try and entice you even more, White also presents part two of a three song trilogy, the first of which was heard on the White Stripes seminal album Icky Thump. “When the third song will appear is anyone’s guess,” he writes.
 
In fact, he does keep us guessing at every career turn. Now living in Nashville, where he’s set up shop with a record store, live space, record making operation, you can hear the city’s influence in songs like “Just One Drink."
 
What’s consistent here is the nonstop risk-taking which has become Jack White’s hallmark – and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
 

Chris's Picks

Artist: F--ked Up
Album: Glass Boys 
Songs: "Paper the House" "Glass Boys"  
 
Artist: Parquet Courts
Album: Sunbathing Animal (Mom+Pop)
Songs: "Duckin and Dodgin" "Instant Disassembly"