Malkmus Gets 'Real Emotional'

Kathleen Edwards

Kathleen Edwards' latest CD is titled Asking for Flowers. hide caption

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Critic Ann Powers of Los Angeles Times tests out Tuesday's new releases, including CDs from Kathleen Edwards, The Gutter Twins, and Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, and also addresses the controversy surrounding a recent review of Black Crowes' new CD.

Kathleen Edwards, who makes sophisticated country-folk, is growing as an artist. Her new album, Asking for Flowers, shows off her stronger musicality and tighter song structures.

The Gutter Twins are two guys from '90s bands who are known to be a little bit dangerous. Greg Dulli, of Afghan Whigs, was a sex symbol, while Mark Lanegan of Screaming Trees was sort of a darker soul, a skinny white blues man. Their new album, Saturnalia, is a bit Dennis Hopper, but the songs stay true to what they've both been doing in their solo work: bluesy rock from Lanegan and more atmospheric music from Dulli.

Stephen Malkmus moved to Portland after Pavement dissolved. His most recent band, The Jicks, includes Janet Weiss, the former drummer for Sleater-Kinney. Despite that indie pedigree, they're being called a jam band. The songs are worth the long listen if you can really sink into them, and if you can tolerate Malkmus' stream-of-consciousness lyrics.

The controversy over Maxim reviewing Black Crowes' Warpaint and Nas' new release without having listened to the entire albums is pointing out the tough situation both music journalists and musicians (or their labels) find themselves in. Journalists feel pressure to write reviews earlier and earlier, for publication right around the release date of the CD. But the ever-increasing leakiness of the Internet has made bands and labels wary of sending out advance music. Undoubtedly, the editors at Maxim acted unethically, but the situation may indicate a future in which releases are not all reviewed at the same time by the same people.

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