Pop: This Week's Album Releases

The Big Noise

INSANE CLOWN POSSE The Amazing Jeckel Brothers Mercury

CALL ME irresponsible but, compared with the elegant tastefulness of this week's other releases, The Amazing Jeckel Brothers positively glows with rude rock'n'roll health, with the accent firmly on rude. In a hip-hop scene clogged up with overused cliches and tired grooves, the rumbustious, knockabout antics of the Insane Clown Posse recall something of the vitality and cartoon menace that Cypress Hill brought to the genre a few years back - not least through the similarity of their terse, bouncing beats to DJ Muggs' infectious productions.

Deliberately refusing to "keep it real" like most rappers, the ICP's Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope prefer to keep it entertaining, offering their "Dark Carnival" of violence, horror and comedy liberally spiked with expletives and a welcome dose of absurdity. They have even less redeeming social merit than Eminem, and could undoubtedly kick his ass with ease if the need arose. They're funnier too, especially on the omni-antagonistic "Fuck the World", a 93-expletive list enumerating their lack of respect for (among others) you, me, us, chickens, critics, the West Coast, the East Coast, Oprah, opera, your mama and your mama's mama, The Beastie Boys and the Dalai Lama, Ted Nugent ("you like to hunt a lot - so fuckin' what?"), all 52 states and, ultimately, both hemispheres. Don't expect to hear it on the radio.

The ICP's fifth album is that most ominous of prospects, a rap concept album, with the eponymous Jeckel siblings Jake and Jack characterised as moral jugglers, one accumulating sins and the other discarding them as the album progresses. No, I don't understand it either, but that doesn't detract from tracks like "Play With Me" - the protest of a toy abandoned for a newer, shinier plaything - and "The Shaggy Show", a chat-show spoof complete with sycophantic sidekick, fake commercials and a guest spot by Snoop Dogg. Other tracks feature Ice-T and incorrigible Wu Tang recidivist Ol' Dirty Bastard, and there are frequent interjections from phone pranksters The Jerky Boys, adding to the giddy, irreverent tone of proceedings.

As with Eminem, there's a blatant attempt to stir up outrage by treating sex and violence as fun and funky, but it'sjust a commercial wind-up: only the most humourless of pedants could take tracks as subtly titled as "Bitches", "I Stab People" and "Fuck the World" at face value. Instead, their brief association with the steroid panto of the WWF wrestling circus perhaps offers a better indication of their aims: the ICP deal in good unclean fun, unwholesome family entertainment that's more shrewdly aware than you imagine of its showbiz status.

RON SEXSMITH

Whereabouts

Interscope

RON SEXSMITH'S third album follows much the same route as its predecessors, its gentle sentiments couched in lingering, crepuscular melodies that settle imperceptibly in your consciousness like dust. Sensitivity and simplicity are the watchwords here, with a disarmingly ingenuous charm to songs like the wistful "Seem To Recall" and catchy "Feel For You", whose hook comes round like an old friend the very first time you hear it. Sexsmith seems incapable of spite or hurt and Whereabouts finds him, if anything, more melancholy than before, particularly when musing upon the fleeting nature of acquaintance in "In A Flash": "The end must come for some good reason/ I've heard it said before/ To everything a time and season/ What was this season for?". Producers Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake bring their usual armoury of analogue tints to Sexsmith's songs - banjo, pump organ, cor anglais and cello - with arrangements that recall the baroque flourishes of Van Dyke Parks on "Riverbed" and the vaudevillean "One Grey Morning". But despite their more elaborate efforts, Whereabouts remains a subtle, understated delight.

VARIOUS ARTISTS

Real: The Tom T Hall Project

Sire

SEXSMITH ALSO turns up as one of the contributors on this tribute album to latterly neglected country songwriter Tom T Hall. Known to his peers as "The Storyteller", but characterised by others as a reactionary for his support for the Vietnam War, Hall drew on his own tough life (he was barely in his teens before his mother died and his father became disabled in a hunting accident) to empathise with the put-upon and passed-by, attacking small-mindedness with wit and a commendable lack of sanctimony in songs like "Harper Valley PTA", his most successful composition. Hall was a hugely-gifted composer, a great song sketchwriter whose stories were wrinkled with telling detail and odd conceits, viewed from unusual angles. These cover versions illustrate the versatility of his material, ranging from Johnny Cash's straightforward solo reading of "I Washed My Face In The Morning Dew" to Joe Henry's Beck-style breakbeat blues treatment of "Homecoming". Other highlights include Sexsmith's achingly delicate "Ships Go Out", Joel R L Phelps' shadowy "Spokane Motel Blues", and Calexico's Tex-Mex flavoured "Tulsa Telephone Book".

SALIF KEITA

Papa

Metro Blue

SALIF KEITA'S latest is something of a halfway house between the jazz stylings of 1991's Amen and its more traditionally African follow-up Folon, with Keita's co-producer Vernon Reid bringing a balanced international flavour through the judicious addition of rock and flamenco guitar, cello and various studio effects to the indigenous kora, balafon, ngoni and m'simby parts. The result is an eclectic whirl borne along on beautifully elastic funk bass and percussion grooves, the tracks growing subtly denser as they proceed, while Keita offers impassioned advice and admiration in his native Bambara language. Several tracks - "Sada", "Tomorrow", "Abede" and "Papa" - follow the traditional griot function of praise songs, the singer lauding departed patrons, friends and family members, while others involve nothing more testing than invitations to dance (though I'm not sure it was such a great idea to have Grace Jones muttering darkly to that effect on "Tolon Willie" - is that the best they could do for guests?). The best track is the reflective "Ananamin (It Took A Long Time)": written by the riverside, it effortlessly evokes the theme of waiting while the world slips by.

TRAVIS

The Man Who

Independiente

TRAVIS'S FOLLOW-UP to the engaging Good Feeling is titled after Oliver Sacks' study of schizophrenia The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat, which is entirely appropriate, since they appear to be The Band Who Mistook Themselves For Radiohead. Abandoning the chirpy Britpop melodies and positive vibe of their debut in favour of something closer to the Oxford band's euphoric dolour, they've made an album which, while impressively crafted, reveals them as overly prey to the breezes of musical fashion. Fran Healy gives the game away on the lovely opener "Writing To Reach You" when he sings, "The radio is playing all the usual/ And what's a wonderwall anyway?"; but though he affects a reasonable facsimile of Thom Yorke's weary soulfulness, the band lacks a Jonny Greenwood who might animate his glum songs beyond their present pallid state. Instead, half-hearted embellishments - an Anne Dudley string arrangement here, wisps of sitar there, even an in- car ambience on one track - are employed to effect a more interesting topography, without revealing any compelling sense of character beneath the chameleonic surface.

Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
musicReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Arts and Entertainment
‘Dawn of Planet of the Apes’ also looks set for success in the Chinese market

film
News
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight

tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Chocolat author Joanne Harris has spoken about the financial struggles most authors face

books
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from How To Train Your Dragon 2

Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigour

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland and Jena Malone in Mockinjay: Part 1

film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
A waxwork of Jane Austen has been unveiled at The Jane Austen Centre in Bath

books
Arts and Entertainment
Britney Spears has been caught singing without Auto-Tune

music
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips

music
Arts and Entertainment
Gay icons: Sesame Street's Bert (right) and Ernie

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Robin Thicke and actress Paula Patton

music
Arts and Entertainment
The new film will be shot in the same studios as the Harry Potter films

books
Arts and Entertainment
Duncan Bannatyne left school at 15 and was still penniless at 29

Bannatyne leaves Dragon's Den

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The French economist Thomas Piketty wrote that global inequality has worsened

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck plays a despondent Nick Dunne in David Fincher's 'Gone Girl'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty (L) and Carl Barât look at the scene as people begin to be crushed

music
Arts and Entertainment

tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?