Cached (Kranky)


Cached begins benignly enough: "Classic Mode" introduces the record with a sparkling little psychedelic summer picnic anthem, very much in the mold of art-house film soundtracks like Pink Floyd's "More." Singer Honey Owens sounds every bit the damaged beauty in the black dress, lulling the listener into a sunny, grass-stained nap that gratingly morphs into a fitful flophouse toss-and-turn session as dissonant organ layering and tape hiss take over. These blend into "Standing on Hot Sidewalk," which never ascends from the noisescape that births it. A singularly odd porn groove drops in for "Contact," complete with giant tom-toms and sublimely greasy wah-wahed electric guitar. "Contact" shrugs off from seizing a satisfying climax, however, and instead rides a free-jazz sensibility to the finish-a slick nod to the avant-gardians. The for-sure headbanger is "My New Youth," which features sweaty, post-punk disco drum machinery holding up a 4AD-esque bass line and rapid-fired (angry) synthesizer stabs. The song refreshes in a way reminiscent of Yo La Tengo's euphoric harder/faster big-guitar singles. That it periodically drops out to amelodic feedback hell confirms the influence.

Overall, Cached is a collection of '70s semi-highbrow musical references expressed from the soul of a pop trio high on electronics. Perhaps Nudge sees German techno through the borrowed sunglasses of John Zorn and John Holmes? The band's organic experimentations here are an exciting twist, though not-quite-danceable electronica enthusiasts shouldn't be disappointed: As Portland's de facto ambassadors of epileptic glitch house, Nudge responsibly includes a couple of big, wrong beats on the record to satisfy their fans' expectations. These, when combined with the clashy horns, the breathy siren vocals and funktastic guitars, congeal into a deep and forward-thinking offering. (Corban Lester)

Who Is Mike Jones? (Warner Brothers)


With skills that are average at best, Mike Jones has crafted an album with beats and hollas that are fun, highly accessible and pretty much guaranteed to get you out on a dance floor after a couple of fruity cocktails. His debut album (if you exclude his highly publicized mix tapes), Who Is Mike Jones? is defined by easy beats and '90s gangsta-style squeaky background harmonies-and, of course, Mike Jones yelling...well, "Mike Jones!" It is, perhaps, the most straightforward and ordinary name in rap, which is precisely what makes it stand out. But that P-Diddy school of in-your-face self-promotion doesn't stop there. Giving new meaning to "fan connection," Jones gives out his real-life phone number on the album (don't waste your time calling it, the mailbox is always full...or so I hear, anyway).

Jones has been riding the recent wave of hype for the Houston hip-hop scene, but the fact that he's blown up so big in the past couple of months is testament to the quality of sound that reaches beyond that muggy corner of Texas. The album is easily digestable for even the queasiest radio listener with good beats, tame lyrics, quality guest spots (including another up-and-comer, Big Moe) and that "Dirrty South" club-music vibe that is frankly hard not to feel. Who Is Mike Jones? may not be revolutionary or even outstanding, but it is fun-and you might even be secretly tempted to crank it up and do a couple loops around Broadway on Friday night. But beware, music lover: You risk getting your ass kicked or, even worse, pulled over for "cruising." (Alex Valdivieso)