Alibi V.17 No.49 • Dec 4-10, 2008 

Sonic Reducer

Various Artists This Warm December: A Brushfire Holiday Vol. 1 (Brushfire Records)

Sometimes you'd just rather be stressed out. That's what the well-intentioned folks at Brushfire Records don't seem to understand. This collection of breezy, down-tempo jingles includes tracks from Jack Johnson, Mason Jennings, G. Love and ALO among others. If you like guitar-heavy Christmas covers, then by all means snag this thing. But in a time of near economic collapse, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and holiday shopping madness, you have to wonder: What are these musicians so goddamned relaxed about? The record is probably meant as an escape from the worries of the world, but it comes off as annoying, insensate and painfully inappropriate. (SM)

Girl Talk Feed the Animals (Illegal Art)

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Gregg Gillis is the man behind the frenetic mashup dance party known as Girl Talk. Released in June as a pay-what-you-can download, a physical copy of his fourth full-length was finally released last month. Like Girl Talk or not, and frankly I find it overwhelming in large doses, this project is an “up yours” to copyright law and its resulting cultural monopolies—something I can get behind. Plus, you've got to respect anyone who can successfully roll Yo La Tengo, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Metallica, The Carpenters and a score of other disparate items into just 30 seconds of sound. (JCC)

Kanye West 808s & Heartbreak (Roc-A-Fella Records)

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The hip-hop community should be grateful for revivalists like Kanye West who brought lyricism and pure innovation back to the mainstream. But three multi-platinum albums later, West’s life and music have taken a major detour. Inspired by the death of his mother and an engagement breakup, 808s & Heartbreak is subject to a deep and lonely void. No rapping, just Auto-Tuned singing, heavy effects and pop-worthy beats. I’m torn. The man is progressive--but claiming to be on the same artistic page as Paul McCartney and Jimi Hendrix is suicide. Until Kanye plays guitar with godlike abilities or co-fronts a group that’s “bigger than Jesus,” 808s & Heartbreak is just another innovative album. (JH)

(JCC) Jessica Cassyle Carr, (JH) Justin Hood, (SM) Simon McCormack