Sound Advice

 By Tim Donnelley

JAY-Z & KANYE WEST
Watch the Throne (***-1/2)
It was only a matter of time before the reigning kings of hip-hop, Kanye West and Jay-Z , split spit-time on an album.

Watch the Throne picks up where Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy left off-it's unpredictable, eccentric and futuristic, albeit more pop-orientated and club-ready.

A "who's who" of co-producers including Q-Tip, RZA and The Neptunes, offset Kanye's affinity for over-the-top ideas that, in the past, have come off as more self-indulgent than enjoyable.

Lyrically, there's a lot to soak in. While Kanye and Jay-Z boast about designer gear and jet-trips to Paris, they also focus on the  self-erosion that comes with those perks, eloquently delving into issues of gender equality, spirituality and black-on-black crime with the perfect amount of swagger.

For fans of: Kid Cudi, Rick Ross , T.I.
Standout Tracks: "Otis," " Murder to Excellence"
Goes well with: Tinted windows, rooftop parties, blunts

THE WAR ON DRUGS
Slave Ambient (****)

Certain bands inspire you to do sh!t- Bob Marley and the Wailers might compel you to fire up a joint and inhale a bag of Cheetos, while The War On Drugs' latest offering, Slave Ambient, compels you to get in the car and just drive...with the windows down.

Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile began crafting Dylan-esque Americana doused in shoegaze and '80s nostalgia in 2003. And after undergoing a few line-up changes (and Vile pursuing a prolific solo career), The War on Drugs appears to have hit their stride.

Billowy synth hooks, ethereal guitars and Granduciel's slow drawl make for an interesting mash-up.

While Granduciel can at times sound like Bob Dylan, Tom Petty or Bruce Springsteen, he finds a way to borrow inspiration instead of stealing it.

?For fans of: ?My Bloody Valentine, Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead
Standout tracks: "Best Night,"  "It's Your Destiny"
Goes well with: Roadtrips, American beer, looking at old photos

REATARDS
Teenage Hate (****-1/2)

The production on Teenage Hate, a deluxe reissue of the Reatards' 1998 garage punk classic (which includes the entire F*ck Elvis Here's the Reatards EP), makes the album sound as if it could have been released in 1961. But it's in this low-fi sound that the intensity lies. It's a balls-to-the-wall, dirty punk album with a side of and rock 'n' roll.

Unlike a lot of punk rock guitarists, Jimmy Lee Lindsey Jr. (aka Jay Reatard), who died last year of a cocaine and alcohol overdose, could really play.

And despite his having derided it, the Memphis blues scene seems to have rubbed off on him-on Teenage Hate, he sped up those blues chords and cranked the distortion. Lindsey was a normal dude until he stepped on stage, then it all went downhill. Or uphill, depending on how you look at it.

For fans of: Pussy Galore, Iggy Pop, Bad Brains
Standout tracks: "Out of My Head," "Into My Bed," "When I Get Mad"
Goes well with: Skateboarding, bad decisions, rioting

RATING KEY
* = Meh
***** = Hell Yeah!

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