AL­BUM RE­VIEWS

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JOHN OATES

Arkansas

Thirty Tigers

The less cel­e­brated half of the pop duo Hall & Oates has tapped into a rich vein of Amer­i­can roots mu­sic on his lat­est of­fer­ing, an al­bum that demon­strates his se­ri­ous­ness about the mu­sic­mak­ing craft.

No, Arkansas prob­a­bly won’t let John Oates live down a legacy in which the mere men­tion of a song ti­tle can leave its melody rat­tling around your head for hours. The duo, dur­ing its hey­day, com­bined a string of catchyto-cloy­ing sin­gles (Pri­vate Eyes) with soul­ful bal­lads that held up bet­ter over time (Sara Smile).

But Oates, a Philadel­phia na­tive, has lately been ex­plor­ing earth­ier sounds in and around Nashville. His search led him to Arkansas, a pro­ject that be­gan as a trib­ute to Mis­sis­sippi John Hurt and evolved into a deeper ex­plo­ration of tra­di­tional themes.

Oates de­scribes the re­sult as “Dix­ieland dipped in blue­grass and salted with Delta blues.” He smartly en­listed A-list Nashville play­ers to help, in­clud­ing man­dolin wizard Sam Bush and gui­tarist Guthrie Trapp. Their play­ing on songs by Jim­mie Rodgers, Hurt, Blind Blake and other leg­ends el­e­vates them con­sid­er­ably, and the Oates orig­i­nals mixed in are good fits.

MGMT

Lit­tle Dark Age

Columbia Records

If MGMT’s first al­bum in four years gets re­ally trippy, there’s a good rea­son. One song was ap­par­ently cre­ated dur­ing a real acid trip.

Band­mates An­drew VanWyn­gar­den and Ben Gold­wasser have once again de­liv­ered an off-kil­ter, chal­leng­ing and very ad­dic­tive al­bum with Lit­tle Dark Age.

The 10-track col­lec­tion veers from cheeky (She Works Out Too Much) to pitch-black (When You Die). There’s a gen­eral sense of un­ease in the lyrics, both so­cially and tech­no­log­i­cally, and the cover seems to riff off Ed­vard Munch’s un­nerv­ing The Scream.

MGMT had some pro­duc­ing help this time from Chair­lift’s Pa­trick Wim­berly and long­time col­lab­o­ra­tor Dave Frid­mann, whose work with the psy­che­delic Flam­ing Lips re­ally rubs off here, par­tic­u­larly in the mind-melt­ing When You’re Small, with the lyric “when you’re small, you can curl into a ball.”

The ti­tle track is the most likely to get main­stream trac­tion, with its heavy synth waves that have a Kraftwerk feel and a video in which VanWyn­gar­den does his best imi­ta­tion of Robert Smith from The Cure. “I grieve in stereo,” he sings.

DAVID DU­CHOVNY

Ev­ery Third Thought

King Baby/GMG

In an episode of The X-Files, Fox Mul­der gets mixed up with some para­nor­mal forces and some­how be­lieves he’s a rock ’n’ roll god. No, wait. That’s not a TV show. It’s ap­par­ently real life for David Du­chovny.

Du­chovny ditches his day job chas­ing aliens on tele­vi­sion to re­lease his 12-track sopho­more ef­fort, Ev­ery Third Thought, an al­bum of pretty good rock songs marred by per­haps the worst vo­cal per­for­mances ever cap­tured dig­i­tally.

This al­bum is like lis­ten­ing to the tired and tipsy strag­glers of an of­fice party end­ing up at a karaoke bar at 3 a.m. when that weird dude from ac­counts payable grabs the mike to live out his rock dreams in a beer-in­duced semi-coma.

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