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Shake it, shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture

Yeah, I've been listening to the new Outkast album all weekend, and damn, it's good.

Just when I was starting to get tired of hip-hop (that'll happen when you load your mp3 player with the stuff and listen to nothing else for over a week), this double-disc dose of freaky funky madness comes along. To be accurate, I guess this album transcends hip-hop, or at least isn't very easily classified as such: it's soul, it's funk, it's dance, heck, there's even a sexy strummy acoustic number (featuring Norah Jones!). And yet, there are songs that are undeniably hip-hop, as well (mostly on Speakerboxxx): like the MC showcase that is "Flip Flop Rock" (featuring Jay-Z and Killer Mike). I could go on, but instead, I'll direct you to "Reasons Why Speakerboxxx/The Love Below is the album of the year unless Chicks On Speed or Basement Jaxx can trump it."

Other music stuff: interesting essay on R.E.M. at Slate.com.

"R.E.M.'s fans have been saying "R.E.M. sucks" since 1984. Reckoning, the band's second album (not counting the Chronic Town EP), sucked because it wasn't Murmur. The next album, Fables of the Reconstruction (or was it Reconstruction of the Fables?), sucked because it was too soft. Life's Rich Pageant was louder but sucked because it was intelligible. The Top 10 Document sucked because it was too popular. Green, the first album R.E.M. put out that wasn't on the IRS label, sucked because it was too Warner Bros. Out of Time sucked because it was too pop. Automatic for the People—well, nobody thought Automatic sucked. But all the albums since Automatic: They suck."

Am still looking forward to the new upcoming best-of, though, if only for the soundtrack songs and the unreleased stuff.

Something else I've been listening to all weekend: all four Narda EPs.

Those of you who haven't heard, much less seen the band yet, are missing out. First saw them perform at some gig in Ateneo early this year, but the first time I ever knew Narda existed was when I saw their EPs for sale in the UP Shopping Center branch of Sarabia Optical. At P30-P50 each (P80 for the newest one), they're well worth it. As JB said, the great thing about Narda is that they're a lot of fun, which is rarer than you might think these days. Their songs are full of sheer pop brilliance, from the poignant-romantic "Meron Ba?" to the jaunty, stick-in-your-head-like glue "Jaywalker." And just when you think you've got them pegged as purveyors of snazzy retro-pop, they whip out a catchy 80s-style hair-metal rocker like "Liwanag." Great stuff.

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Best described as a Murakami detox support group, we're all fans of the quirkily brilliant Japanese author, Haruki Murakami, and writing about such things as films we've seen recently and books we're reading (not to mention meandering musings on the man's work, of course) helps us to pass time while waiting for the next book from Haruki-baby.

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