CD reviews for Sept. 9

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Kanye West

"Late Registration"

On sale at All That Jazz for $14.99

Let me begin by making myself a social pariah. "Late Registration" is supposed to be the biggest album of the year. It's "the new 'Speakerboxx'," or so I was told.

Since the album came out a couple of weeks ago, Kanye West has been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show and praised in every music magazine. Rolling Stone wrote that West, who has been known to compare himself to the likes of Muhammad Ali and Bill Gates, may be "too modest."

Even the jaded writers of Pitchfork gave this album a 9.5 out of 10.

That's why I know that I'm going to be dragged through the streets behind the Waste Management truck when I say: "I don't get it."

To me, West's rhymes are trite, boring and cliche. I have to guess that the reason so many people are into this album is its production. Samples and beats lay a great groundwork that makes me wish it was someone else's voice, or at least someone else's writing.

Rated: Maybe if I was mo' of a ho, I'd like it.

Herbie Hancock

"Possibilities"

On sale at All That Jazz for $14.99

It's amazing to me how many Herbie Hancock albums there are and how varied his musical movements are within each one.

I never know what to expect. Throughout the years, his music has redefined where jazz can wander and changed the way piano players in every basement club across America move their fingers across the keys.

He plays music that is melodic enough that any musical novice can ride along, while, at the same time, bringing enough complexity to the mix that the nerdiest Berklee College of Music grad is willing to put down $15 for his latest record.

"Possibilities" is no exception. The album is a snapshot of our current musical moment. He brings in vocals and instrumentals by Christina Aguilera, Trey Anastasio, Santana, John Mayer, Annie Lennox, Paul Simon, Damien Rice, Sting and Joss Stone.

As always, the music he presents originates from the far-flung corners of Latin America and the newest Manhattan jazz club.

Rated: At more than 9,000 Starbucks locations worldwide.

Death Cab for Cutie

"Plans"

On sale at All That Jazz for $13.99

Rue the day that any artist gets his or her heart broken.

Artists go through the entire process in front of us. They scream and rant and cry up and down the street -- on canvas and on paper.

Or, in this case, they sing their pain into a microphone.

I don't know what happened to lead singer Ben Gibbard, but he's spilling his guts all over the 11 tracks of "Plans."

I can assume only that "Plans" is shorthand for "Broken plans" or "What do I do now? I'm sooooo sad. I'm soooo alone. She left me, etc."

Despite the mope-rock aspect of this album and my usual aversion to sad songs, I found myself really enjoying the writing on this album.

Maybe my mind was looking for something deeper after listening to the Kanye West album.

Like this post-breakup sentiment in "Summer Skin:" "Squeaky swing and tall grass/The longest shadows ever cast ... then Labor Day came and went/And we shed what was left of our summer skin ... And we peeled the freckles from our shoulders/Our brand new coats were so flushed and pink/And I knew your heart I couldn't win/Because the season's change was a conduit."

Rated: Sorry about that girl, whoever she was, but it made for good album fodder.

-- Autumn Phillips

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