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by Ted S. McGregor Jr. and Jorma Knowles & r &





Indigo Girls


Despite Our Differences


4 stars





& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & hese girls have been around a while now: Believe it or not, they've been performing for more than 20 years, and Despite Our Differences is their 10th record of original material. In all that time, they've never made a bad album -- and they haven't started now.


But the Indigo Girls have changed from their acoustic, folksy roots -- becoming both more political and more poppy. The one constant has been the two distinct musical dimensions -- Emily Saliers and Amy Ray write very different songs. And it's the same here, with Emily cutting the catchy, sing-along tracks (especially "Run") while Amy offers the edgier -- often darker -- rock 'n' roll.


On previous records, I've liked Emily's offerings better, but Amy kind of rules this album, from the somber "Three County Highway" to the raucous "Rock and Roll Heaven's Gate."


But even though their songs are all their own, they continue to lend their voices to each other -- making those perfect harmonies that have kept me listening through all these years.


-- TED S. McGREGOR JR.





DOWNLOAD: "Three County Highway"





VARIOUS ARTISTS


Chrome Children


4 stars





& lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & C & lt;/span & hrome Children is a joint venture between the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim (following up 2005's well-received DangerDoom experiment) and L.A.'s Stones Throw Records. Label boss Peanut Butter Wolf has assembled this robust compilation, a CD/DVD package representing the current state of Stones Throw's diverse talent pool.


Despite contributions from Gary Wilson, Koushik, Baron Zen, and many others, the fingerprints of Madlib and the late J Dilla are all over this project. Detroit's Guilty Simpson is unapologetically gangster, and Dilla's "Clap Your Hands" beat is intensity incarnate. The tracks bounce around a bit, but with this many eccentric musicians to handle, finding a cohesive flow wasn't a priority for Peanut Butter Wolf. Regardless, Chrome Children remains a strange, fascinating record. Pay close attention to the frenetic drums and brutal vocals of "Do a Couple of Things" by James Pants -- it's a zany taste of what's to come from Spokane's wunderkind representative.


-- JORMA KNOWLES





DOWNLOAD: "Do a Couple of Things"

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