Liner Notes: CD reviews

 by Ben Horowitz
 published on Thursday, April 13, 2006

Scott Allen
Life is Art
(Modern Languaj Asosiashun)

On this seven-song EP, local hip-hop artist Scott Allen seems to favor samples with piano and stringed instruments, which adds an interesting feeling of drama to all of the tracks, especially opener "Happy Guy." Subject matter ranges from blue-collar anthems to commentary on society and, of course, girls. Production is kind of thin, but it sounds good with Allen's straightforward vocal style. Recommended for people interested in checking out the local hip-hop scene. -- benjamin.horowitz@asu.edu

Ben Harper
Both Sides of the Gun
(Virgin)
Three and a half out of five stars

Even apparent pacifists like song-and-jam man Ben Harper have a boiling point. His comes midway into a woozy fusion of trad-folk and Middle Eastern sounds called "Better Way." The usually cool Harper loses it, shrieking over the exotic tones of a tambura that everyone he knows "is in the fight of their life." It's a brilliant opening to the album. Both Sides of the Gun is split into two separate discs that Harper views as sides, though neither is designated A or B. Regardless of where you begin -- with "Better Way" or the similarly mellow but more hopeful "Morning Yearning" -- Both Sides stands as Harper's strongest work yet. He shoehorns superfly funk like "Black Rain" (about Hurricane Katrina), a pastoral instrumental called "Sweet Nothing Serenade," and the beautiful ballad "Happily Everafter in Your Eyes," into an 18-song collection that zips by like an EP. -- Patrick Berkery courtesy of KRT Campus



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