Kickin' 'bot

Get ready for the major-label pre-holiday blitz

SONIC REDUCER A mashed-up stock market and credit-crunked fiscal outlook be damned — just what does the music industry have to do to make you part with your overly stretched entertainment dollar? Pay you to buy, Joe Deflation? Bookended by the double-B bombshells — Beyonce's Nov. 18-released I Am ... Sasha Fierce (Sony) and Britney Spears' Dec. 2-scheduled Circus (Jive) — this week is likely major-label ground zero for pre-holiday CD releases — ready to tantalize us, peering through Pepto Bismol-smeared turkey goggles, with toothsome collaborations, tempt us with superstar potential, and dazzle with gleaming newness.

I'm taking a cue from a future-focused Kanye West and feeding a few Nov. 24 (Island Def Jam got a jump on the traditional Tuesday release date) and 25 releases to the trusty Micro-Reviewbot, our neutral yet far from neutered critical assessment generator, which will hold these discs up against infuriatingly fuzzy expectations and objectively critique said recordings. The exception: Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy (Interscope) — because it's hard to review an album when, at press time, the label allows Micro-Reviewbot to listen to only two tracks. But hey, why spoil the shock and awe? Careful now, Micro-Reviewbot can't not tell the truth. Micro-Reviewbot only knows how to speak truth — to power and powerless alike. All systems go, Micro-Reviewbot!


Anticipation level: Smokin' high, tempered with likely some ambivalence about Graduation's Daft Punk-Takashi Murakami-Chris Martin alliances. Has West hitched his wagon to one too many trendoids? Still, we are spared the faux drama of a 50 Cent feud with the advance of 808s' release date.

Micro-Reviewbot's pop-psych diagnosis: Frankly, Kanye sounds depressed. I know the self-proclaimed genius of rap is working through some deep shit: he broke up with his fiancée, and his mom died a year ago during cosmetic surgery.

Witness the way West has dug himself so deeply into his Afro-futurist themes and coolly digitized sonic landscape. This space-age ice-cold killer is taking the next spaceship from reality, pronto, while yodeling through a thicket of effects, "See you in my nightmares, suckers!" You wouldn't know that the political/cultural change is breaking out all over this month — straight from the 808, a.k.a., native-born Barack Obama's Hawaii, where West recorded this album using, a-ha, a Roland TR-808 drum machine. Instead, Kanye has taken refuge in something he can rely on: the love between a man and his Vocoder — or rather, a man and his Auto-Tune plug-in. Still, the songs on the dampened-down 808s and Heartbreak continue to grow on Micro-Reviewbot.

Alternative: Ludacris' take-that, mob-inciting Theater of the Mind (Disturbing Tha Peace) — with a guest cast including TI, T-Pain, Lil Wayne, Jay-Z, Nas, the Game, Rick Ross, Chris Rock, Jamie Foxx, and Spike Lee — also out Nov. 24. It's as if Ludi hadn't ever abandoned the rap game for the cineplex — even if his references tend to ride a pop culture loop of I Hate Chris and Any Given Sunday more readily than anything resembling clichéd gangbanger reality.


Expectations: Fall Out Boy feuds and suits by ex-managers aside, it's hard to gauge, considering their paean to Wal-Mart moms, Sam's Town, surprised everyone by taking a left turn from the guilty-pleasure deca-dance-pop of "Somebody Told Me" toward Broooce-fearing Freedom Rock, a then-untapped '80s retro vein — and shocked further by going Putf8um.

Micro-Reviewbot's stays-in-Vegas assessment: are the Killers trying to tell us something by opening with a track titled "Losing Touch"?

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