New Music

Aaliyah

I Care 4 U

(Universal)

Released just over a year after Aaliyah’s death, I Care 4 U is not only a “greatest hits” compilation, but a comprehensive representation of the singer’s life and personality as well.

Besides including many of her most popular singles (mostly from her later albums and soundtrack appearances), the album also features six previously unreleased tracks. Though songs such as “Miss You” and “Come Over” (a duet with R&B; artist Tank) equal any of Aaliyah’s previous recordings, the Timbaland-produced “Don’t Know What To Tell Ya” is a mediocre inclusion. It is no rival for collaborative masterpieces such as “One In A Million,” “I Care 4 U” and “More Than A Woman,” all included on the album.

As she was also lauded for her dancing abilities and lively performances, the album comes with a DVD that features her most popular music videos.  “Are You That Somebody” shows another dimension of famous choreographer Fatima Robinson’s creative talent—a valuable inclusion for every Aaliyah fan.

I Care 4 U counters the notion that new albums with posthumously released material are necessarily cash-in projects. The album gives music lovers saddened by Aaliyah’s sudden passing another chance to commemorate her life and artistry.- —Cassandra Cummings

The Microphones

Mount Eerie

(K Records)

After delivering The Glow, Pt. 2, an off-kilter pop album that topped many “Best of 2001” lists, critical darlings The Microphones have promptly returned with their follow-up. A considerably darker affair, Mount Eerie is a challenging five-song concept album of meditations on death. Central Microphone Phil Elvrum sculpts an appropriately chaotic mélange with his frail, wavering voice, delicate guitar acoustics and haunting background vocals provided by labelmates Mirah and Calvin Johnson. Most prominent, however, are the constantly booming percussion and out-of-sync drum loops, which evoke (respectively) Mount Eerie and the narrator’s phobias surrounding it.

Seventeen-minute opener “The Sun” sets the tone for the rest of the album, working gradually from silence into frantic tribal beating that is suddenly interrupted by Elvrum’s acapella bleat. Abrasive feedback makes the transition into “Solar System,” only to morph into the welcome sounds of a running river and melodic, lightly strummed guitar. The album’s climax hits with the title track, where layers of dramatic vocals mix with jarring drum loops in an almost sacred blend that recalls Radiohead’s Kid A. Like that unconventional and somewhat unsettling album, Mount Eerie constantly defies expectations. —Christopher A. Kukstis

The Sea And Cake

One Bedroom

(Thrill Jockey)

There is absolutely nothing wrong with One Bedroom, the latest from Chicago post-rockers The Sea And Cake. Each of the album’s ten songs is the logical continuation of the band’s brand of blissful, heady pop. Sam Prekop’s vocals still melt into the guitar lines, and there is still that straight and clean guitar strumming that provides rich harmonic landscapes for downright beautiful melodies.