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Sound Bites: Music Reviews

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AP Photo Phish, NYET359, Beastie Boys, NVLAS358

By The Associated Press

Selected music reviews:

Beastie Boys, “To The 5 Boroughs” (Capitol)

The Beastie Boys’ highly anticipated new album, “To The 5 Boroughs,” is a return to the classic hip-hop style not heard entirely on a Beastie’s release since 1989’s “Paul’s Boutique.”

Gone are the prog instrumentals, the two-minute thrash anthems, the sabotaged ‘70s-hard rock and the live instruments. Recorded entirely on a computer, “5 Boroughs” is an ode to Gotham and the East Coast hip-hop groups of the early ‘80s: Think passing mics, juvenile rhymes, rubbery basslines, scratching records (courtesy of Mixmaster Mike) and stomping beats.

The Beasties constantly reference the people, places and things that are popular and esoteric in New York City – Mike Piazza, Page Six, Canal Street watches and the sporting goods store Modell’s just a few of the many name-dropped.

Anything goes when Ad-Rock, MCA and Mike D rhyme in tandem and it often comes off like a freestyle at a rec center. Though they touch on weighty subjects like politics on “Time to Build” (“We got a president we didn’t elect/The Kyoto Treaty he decided to neglect”), there’s inside jokes that range from basketball to food.

The choice samples (EPMD, Big Daddy Kane) evoke the ghosts of hip-hop’s past with choruses cribbed directly from earlier joints. Their punk roots show up via the Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer” – they take the song’s main guitar riff for “An Open Letter to NYC.” That song is a highlight, along with Ad-Rock slipping into fake foreign accents and Mike D’s declaration of “you heard me like I was E.F. Hutton.”

On “Three the Hard Way,” MCA disses a perpetrator with “your rhyme technique/ it is antique.” But it could have easily been a boast about his own crew’s flow, as they seem to become even more real with age.

– Jake O’Connell, AP Writer

The Corrs, “Borrowed Heaven,” (Atlantic Records)

Of the dozen cuts on “Borrowed Heaven,” not one is a clinker.

The four siblings from Ireland not only sing and play on this, their first studio album in four years, they wrote 11 of its 12 songs.

Sisters Andrea, Caroline and Sharon handle the vocals in bright, clear voices while they and brother Jim provide the music, largely pop sounds with a Celtic flavor courtesy of the violin, tin whistle and bodhran (a frame drum).

The single “Summer Sunshine” opens the set. Its bouncy sound and optimistic title belie the song’s true identity – a lament about a secret, unrequited love – but it works. A more fittingly contemplative tempo is used on “Long Night,” about still being in love after it’s over: “It’s gonna be a long night, and it’s gonna be cold without your arms.”

On a more cheerful note, “Even If” celebrates the joy of being in love: “Even if” the sun and moon failed, Andrea sings, “you light the ground I walk on.”

Two songs remember the Corrs’ late mother, Jean: “Angel,” written by Caroline and Andrea, who sing “I’ll be proud to be like you” in a somewhat lively arrangement featuring traditional Irish sounds; and Sharon’s poignant “Goodbye” – “It’s time to say goodbye, block out the sun, pack up the sky.”

“Humdrum” is an offbeat and slightly mean-spirited – but fun – ditty about the disappointment of broken dreams. It starts with vinyl-scratching – atypical for The Corrs – and climaxes with the hook, “I want to take you for granted … forget your birthday, shrink all your clothes.”

“Baby Be Brave” is about overcoming the fear of failure and finding the courage to try.

The only cut not written by the Corrs is “Time Enough for Tears,” Andrea’s slow, haunting vocal of a song co-written by U2’s Bono for the 2003 film “In America.”

The album has enough of a Corrs pedigree to satisfy their fans, while music-buyers who want to become acquainted with the group’s work beyond the radio playlist will find this as good a place as any to do so.

– Ron Berthel, AP Writer

AP-ES-06-14-04 1901EDT

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