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 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Seu Jorge
Cru
Wrasse Records

Rating: 8/10 ?


August 30, 2005
Bob Marley was raised in and inspired by his early life in the slum-like, crime-infested conditions in Jamaica. He spoke of poverty, discrimination and the overall feeling of hope that would eventually conquer all. Although some music heads are quick to dismiss Marley's contributions to reggae (and music as a whole), his story - from its raw beginnings to international superstar status - is inspiring.

Seu Jorge is quickly on his way to becoming an international star. Unlikely to ever reach Marley status in either likeability or songwriting ability, Jorge released this second album, Cru, with similar aesthetics at hand to some of the King of Reggae's finer recordings. Most importantly of all, Jorge has come into his own, feeling his sound out along the way and being unafraid to show his shortcomings and musical differences in order to reach new levels.

So to get the obvious pop culture references out of the way, yes, Jorge was that guy who acoustically bossanova'd Bowie songs in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. Through this film he has become somewhat of an indie cult favorite, just as how many other Wes Anderson's films have bred a focus onto their hip soundtrack contributors. And while the film - just as his previous acting experience, in film City of God - helped him to become exposed on a grander level, Jorge is deserving of the attention and resulting praise. With the entire package he brings, one gets the feeling Jorge wants to be seen as hip, but there is also the undeniable strength of his writing and voice that carry him to such a destination.

One of the questions to wonder, then, is "What is Seu Jorge's destination?" Cru can be thought of as world music, pop music, street music, or simply just good music. In its most characteristic moments, the album shows itself as South American pop music with Jorge's coarse baritone bouncing over ching-a-ling-y guitar work.

Admittedly, after catching Jorge in Life Aquatic, it was unexpected to have him front a capable collective of musicians. Often artists who break with a solo effort come off as overextended in these sorts of groups; I envisioned him riding the acoustic-vocal formula that brought him the notoriety in the first place. Instead, through ten songs - many of which are original compositions - the Brazilian songwriter shows he is multidimensional and, better yet, capable. Even in interpretations such as Serge Gainsbourg's "Chatterton" and Leiber & Stoller's original "Don't," Seu and his two main contributors, Robertinho Brant (acoustic guitar, vocals, auxiliary) and Pretinho da Serrinha (percussions), are uniquely accelerated as an outfit.

Most of Cru is sung in Portuguese and Jorge's voice is probably the album's greatest instrument. His voice is most naturally suited in a low baritone range, but he can also belt out falsetto notes that sound just as natural. He uses stacked vocal tracks and stunning harmonies give strength to what is already an excellent vocal line.

When by himself playing acoustic guitar, Seu shows off romantic ballad-style Brazilian pieces. His voice wanders over moving, two-dollar guitar chord combos (a good thing), and the overall aesthetic is emotional if not repentant. When relying on his band, there is much more movement and far less emotion. Hand claps, cavaquinho, shakers and other Latin percussion offer non-Western colorings, but drumset, wah-wah electric guitar, bass and bass synth show another more 'rocking' dimension.

There are a couple areas that Cru shows weakness: at some points, Jorge wanders in his vocal melodies and finds himself lost or on shaky grounds, struggling to support his normally steady confidence level. Song style selection is also questionable at times, as the first half of the album moves and the second half is slow acoustic ballads, with transition tunes that lack a connection with either. On the whole, however, Cru is greatly consistent: when Jorge and his backing band throw down a bossanova dance groove, he comes to the foreground and sells it; likewise, when he passionately serenades over a silky acoustic guitar blanket, he makes you feel his words like a soft, comforting massage.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger

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