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New Songs That Will Make You Want To Crank The Volume


This is FRESH AIR. Sometimes you just want to crank up the volume and play a piece of music real loud. And that's what Ken Tucker wants to do when he listens to the recently released songs he's going to review, songs from three different genres - rock, punk and funk. Here's his review of music by My Morning Jacket's Jim James, the Danish band Iceage and George Clinton's Parliament.


JIM JAMES: (Singing) Can't get to work, can't get to sleep - you've got to move your dancing feet. You've got to roam all over the world. I made mistakes.

KEN TUCKER: Jim James is best known as the front man for My Morning Jacket. But he's also released a string of solo albums of which "Uniform Distortion" is the third one. It is, overall, a collection of intentionally rough, loud songs. Backed by an efficient two-man rhythm section, there's an emphasis on James' guitar, which has a ragged, sometimes blaring sound. In a recent interview, James said, I wanted to make a record that's fun and quick and raw. And as he says on this song, rock on now.


JAMES: (Singing) Here I stand, going through the motions with the mic in my hand. Playing hard to get, pretending like I understand. Just a fool getting by. Just a fool doing all right. Rock on, now. Out getting loaded...

TUCKER: George Clinton, the longtime king of funk with his bands Parliament and Funkadelic is back with the first Parliament album in 38 years. It's called "Medicaid Fraud Dog," a clever concept album. Clinton uses his advanced age - he's 77 years old - as a springboard for songs both silly and serious about government aid programs, the opioid crisis and the healing power of funk music. All of it combines to form Clinton's pronouncement on the health of the country or, as he calls it, one nation under sedation.


TUCKER: The album's first single features a fine, lurching rhythm; dense guitar, keyboard, drum grooves; and Clinton's gravelly voice singing the title, which is "I'm Gon Make U Sick O'me."


PARLIAMENT: (Singing) I'm gon' make you sick - I'm gon' make you sick of me. Then I'm going to give you the antidote. Something to make you better. I'm gon' make you sick - I'm gon' make you sick of me. Then I'm going to give you the antidote - hey, hey, hey. La la la da di da di da di day (ph), la la la da di da di da di day, la la la da di da di da di day, la la la da di da di da. Then what I'm going to do - I'm gon' make you sick...

TUCKER: Iceage is a Danish band from Copenhagen. The band started out close to a decade ago, heavily influenced by 1970s punk rock. Now, more albums into their career, they've expanded their sound to include horns and take in a more grand, Gothic tone on their new collection titled "Beyondless." The key to their pleasure is that the quartet keeps its song structures tight and never neglects to include a refrain that hooks you into hanging on for the next tremulous or angry verse.


ICEAGE: (Singing) It takes character to make a decision. It takes more to stand firm and follow through. But some stand points are more than I can live up to. Performed an exorcism on myself. Cited prayers and rites of deliverance. Yet here I am, somehow still possessed.

TUCKER: The new music from all three of these acts seeks release in letting loose, in the pleasure music can give from creating wild, anarchic spaces within the framework of pop music song structures. There's an art to summoning up chaos and an equal reward in keeping that chaos under control.

GROSS: Ken Tucker is critic at large for Yahoo TV.

Tomorrow on FRESH AIR, we take a look back at the Supreme Court term with New York Times Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak. We'll talk about important decisions that didn't get much attention as well as those that did. And we'll talk about Justice Kennedy's retirement. Liptak reported that the president and his allies subtly encouraged Kennedy to retire with enough time to appoint a new justice before the midterm elections. I hope you'll join us.


JAMES BROWN: (Singing) Baby, give it up, or turn it a loose.

GROSS: FRESH AIR's executive producer is Danny Miller. Our 1989 concert with Doc Watson was recorded by our technical director and engineer Audrey Bentham. Our associate producer for digital media is Molly Seavy-Nesper. Therese Madden directed today's show. I'm Terry Gross. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ken Tucker reviews rock, country, hip-hop and pop music for Fresh Air. He is a cultural critic who has been the editor-at-large at Entertainment Weekly, and a film critic for New York Magazine. His work has won two National Magazine Awards and two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Awards. He has written book reviews for The New York Times Book Review and other publications.