Cornershop | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader


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Ethnic fusion is quickly becoming as common as electric guitar in pop music, but the Indian-Anglo group Cornershop has managed to slip in some cultural reappropriation as well: on the group's latest album, When I Was Born for the 7th Time (Luaka Bop), Tjinder Singh swipes the raga-rock classic "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)" back from the Beatles by singing its words in Punjabi, and the MTV Buzz Bin hit "Brimful of Asha" uses a pared-down rock approach (bass is heard only on the song's chorus) to canonize Indian filmi singers Asha Bhosle, Lata Mangeshkar, and Mohammed Rafi in much the same way Arthur Conley's "Sweet Soul Music" fetes his raspy-voiced predecessors. (And like the group's "6 A.M. Jullandar Shere," from its 1995 album Woman's Gotta Have It, it's one of the most irresistibly catchy tunes of the decade.) Other highlights include the pretty ballad "Good to Be on the Road Back Home," with guest vocalist Paula Frazer of Tarnation playing Sally Timms to the band's Mekons, and the gliding, scrappy "Good Shit." The rest of the album is less satisfying--particularly some of the hip-hop-inspired instrumentals, which come off as filler--but Cornershop has chopped up its stylistic sources so finely that the new tunes lack the forced multiculti aspect that sank some of the band's early experiments. Cornershop's previous Chicago performances have been uneven, but they have more strong material at their disposal now than ever, and when they play the mesmerizing "Jullandar Shere" they're the best band on earth. The quirky Icelandic pop-techno group Gus Gus headlines. Tuesday, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 773-549-0203. PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by Karen A. Peters.

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