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Big Boi

Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty

High on Fire

Snakes for the Divine

[E1 Music]

A dozen years and five albums in, Oakland stonermetal masters High on Fire have already forced the adjective “awesome” to grab its ankles so often that it’s no longer a surprise when they stick it in. Whether this year’s Snakes for the Divine is the band’s best album yet is open to debate (for now), but it’s certainly their biggest, burliest and most devastating. Under the sonic tutelage of Slayer producer Greg Fidelman, guitarist/vocalist Matt Pike’s cyclonic riffs sound leaner and meaner than ever as drummer Des Kensel and bassist Jeff Matz’s rolling-thunder rhythm section booms with newfound clarity and atmospheric nuance— especially on monster cuts like “Bastard Samurai” and the excellently titled “Frost Hammer.” Meanwhile, Pike roars over the blitzkrieg like Lemmy’s younger, angrier, more mystically-minded brother. Listen closely enough and you can almost hear awesome begging for more. —J. Bennett

high on fire photo by travis shinn

[Def Jam]

Big Boi’s first solo album is a testament to tenacity. Label politics and artistic conflicts led to it sitting on the shelf, pretty much finished, for nearly a year. Yet it still sounded absolutely vital upon its release this summer. When you’re always a few steps ahead, delayed releases don’t mean quite as much. If you were an OutKast fan who preferred Big Boi’s Speakerboxxx to Andre’s The Love Below, you couldn’t help but feel rewarded by the long-put-off release of Chico Dusty, which uses hip-hop more as a launching point: the technofunk of “Shutterbugg,” the looped snatch from Verdi’s Aida that propels “General Patton,” a soulful sample of Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes glittering behind “Shine Blockas.” Meanwhile, Big Boi plays the trickster, stringing along verses that are so dense with internal rhyme, tongue-twisting complexity and (crucially) a wicked sense of humor that they seem to revitalize the English language itself. This lyrical prowess, and Big’s seeming compulsion to explore the musical landscape until every option’s been exhausted, would be thrilling enough. But it’s a testament to Big Boi’s bigger-than-life personality that—despite the album being crowded with skits, styles and guests—Chico Dusty is such a singular statement of intent. —Maura Johnston

cowbell

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Dimple Records' In-Store Magazine, December 2010  
Dimple Records' In-Store Magazine, December 2010  

"Indie Rock with a Slice of Green." Cowbell Magazine features Cee Lo Green, Daft Punk, plus our lists of the top albums, games and dvds of t...