The King and I

Music reviews—local and beyond

Truth Arises in Search: The Mixtape

Tais, one-fifth of Sacramento’s Righteous Movement, has a flow reminiscent of a young Talib Kweli—dexterous and full of message—and his inflated personality barely fits within the confines of a song structure. “Outside,” a heartfelt collaboration with Flo-Real, does for introspection what “Times Like This” does for joy and what “Party People” does for celebration. Tais never lets his uplifting message get weighed down in rap stereotype. In other words, this mix tape sizzles with love of life. Keep track of Tais at (Josh Fernandez)

David Archuleta
David Archuleta
Jive Records

The problem with American Idol is the inevitable churning out of sonic diarrhea: winners, runners-up and their shitty post-show output. David Archuleta is yet another in a long line of disposable contestants whose limited appeal doesn’t extend beyond the boob tube. The kid is just as generic and bland as one should expect—the kind of background music tailor-made for Disney Channel commercials or real-estate offices. Calculated and cloying songs abound: “Don’t Let Go,” “Your Eyes Don’t Lie,” “A Little Too Not Over You” is the stuff of tween dreams, possibly, but not much else. (Tony King)

Ted Leo & the Pharmacists b/w Zach Galifianakis
Split 7-inch

For more than 15 years, Athens, Ga., native and music and comedy lover Henry Owens has been churning out Chunklet magazine. Think the biting satire of Spy, crossed with Puncture’s mind-numbing knowledge of indie rock (both woefully missed publications, indeed) and you’d be close. The latest Chunklet 7-inch features Ted Leo and the Pharmacists’ “Rock N Roll Dreams’ll Come Through,” while on the flip side comedian Zach Galifianakis delivers the hilarious rap-a-long, “Up in Them Guts” (with Fiona Apple, no less!) This musician-comedian format has served Owens well over the years, featuring performers such as David Cross, Mogwai and Patton Oswalt, to name a few. By the time you read this, the 7-inch may be sold out. There’s always eBay or Gemm. (T.K.)

Frida Hyvönen
Silence Is Wild
Secretly Canadian

On Swedish singer Frida Hyvönen’s third album, torch songs reign supreme. Hyvönen possesses a commanding vocal presence that recalls Annie Lennox crossed with Joan Baez, set against an overwrought musical sound stage so dramatic it puts the Smiths and Tindersticks to shame. But Hyvönen’s lyrics suffer from too much “tell” and not enough “show”—subtle and poetic they are not. “Well, I became a singer and he became a chimney sweep,” she sings clunkily on opener “Dirty Dancing,” while “Science” gets weighed down in too much astute wordiness. “Scandinavian Blonde,” however, is a barnburner, with Hyvönen hollering over instrumentation so frantic it must have set the studio on fire. (T.K.)

Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
Lost Highway

It’s a shame that Ryan Adams is such a petulant asshole, because his latest album with the Cardinals ain’t too bad. Adams, formerly of Whiskeytown and currently of solo artist/legendary-prick status, knows how to wrangle the country-twinged rawk tropes (road-weary vocals, slide-guitar weepiness—and is that a sad mandolin?). Cardinology is an album that would make a great soundtrack to a road trip or dinner-party background Muzak, depending on your mood. “Let Us Down Easy,” “Natural Ghost” and “Born Into a Light” highlight Adams’ yearn-singing best. “Magick” is the singular rocker here, while “Crossed Out Name” just may be Adams coming to terms with his douchebagginess. (T.K.)