Also: Chamillionaire/DJ Whoo Kid and My Summer of Love.


Here Lies the Body of Jaks


Never the victim, Jaks singer Katrina Ford screamed bloody murder through the band's visionary and underrated musical mid-'90s career in Ann Arbor, collected in full on this album. Like Brides of No No, Jaks resuscitated no wave and post-punk before everyone was bored by their ubiquity, with Ford singing-spitting sick horrorcore lyrics in a growl that led some listeners to believe her a dude. As in her subsequent bands, Love Life and the Celebration, she put down this sonic myth with incredible erotic presence, like a nimble-footed vampire spider gone hardcore. Ford's future husband, Sean Antanaitis, blazed guitar lines across pummeling drums as if he were auditioning for Rowland Howard's place in the Birthday Party, and the quartet's Steve Albini–recorded Hollywood Blood Capsules fired in all directions with Jesus Lizard dissonance and Big Black brutality. On "Spitmudd," single-note guitar shreds and on-a-dime changes are lorded over by the very of-the-times noise-rock telephone vocals that turn Ford into feedback and back between heavy hits from the bass and toms. As on "Cavity," from their final 7-inch, Five-Nine, the band excelled at post-hardcore's greatest musical gift to the world—intense dynamic, rhythmic, and timbral changes in unexpected but still songlike form. Faster, harder, and sicker even than Ford's subsequent projects, Jaks is unrepentant, joyful horror noise from an era whose "women in rock" had little room for girls covered in fake blood. Time to write this one into the history books. DAPHNE CARR


The Truth


If Universal knew what they had in Houston rapper Chamillionaire, they would've put out an album within two months of signing him. He's a total package, fast and sly and charismatic and funny, dropping perfect punch lines as quick asides ("your brother is my descendent"), effortlessly ratcheting his flow up to Twista speed before slowing down to sing an undeniably sticky chorus. Get Ya Mind Correct, the independent album Cham released in 2003 with then-partner Paul Wall, found the duo slipping syllables between the cracks of gooey, synthed-up Texas funk with the casual mastery of two old pros goofing off in their basement. On The Truth, Cham's recent mixtape with DJ Whoo Kid, Cham has something to prove; his city is now on the hip-hop map, and he's broken with Wall and launched a beef with fellow Houston rapper Mike Jones. Now he's flowing over triumphant East Coast soul on "You Gotta Love Me" and epic, swollen metal guitars on "I'm a Bad Man." He's lost some of his old carefree exuberance, but he still drops lines about "isosceles triangle[s] poking out of the swanger" with dizzying ease. And he delivers two absolute classics: "Back Up Plan," a long, floaty sex jam with Devin the Dude, and "Platinum Allstars," a gorgeously sunny and fizzy boast track with Lil' Flip and Bun B. Too bad Universal turned down their chance to cash in with two certifiable summer jams. TOM BREIHAN


My Summer of Love


Breakup albums are a dime a dozen; decent songs to have sex to abound. But music to seduce, betray, and attempt murder by? Now we're talking. Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory penned My Summer of Love's hazy, drifting score; they also contribute the film's opening song, "Lovely Head," which first appeared on Goldfrapp's 2000 debut, Felt Mountain— a semipsychedelic James Bond–theme wanna-be framed by Ennio Morricone–ish whistling. Goldfrapp and Gregory's score is unusually good at building suspense, making the album a cinematic experience in itself. Short bursts of mysterious, throbbing sound, like the 35-second track "Pulse," exude the same kind of unease as the film and lend dramatic weight to the songs they surround. Both the Pretenders' quiet, wistful "I Go to Sleep"—swept along by an insistent, Mozartian piano—and Blonde Redhead's "Elephant Woman" (from 2004's Misery Is a Butterfly) may as well have been written for the movie. Like the album's moody classical selections (Saint-Saëns, Borodin, and funeral music by, yes, Mozart), the pop tracks feel of a piece, eerily well matched—much like Love's teenage heroines. Yet the soundtrack has an obvious centerpiece: Edith Piaf's snarling rendition of "La Foule," recorded in 1956 but still startlingly fresh. Between the witchy piano/accordion intro and the tempestuous, horn-driven finale, Piaf tells the story of two lovers who lose themselves, and each other, in a carnival crowd. It's a startlingly perfect metaphor for what the French call amour fou ("mad love"). If you haven't experienced it, this music will make you want to. NEAL SCHINDLER

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