Various Artists

Crimebusters and Crossed Wires: Stories of This American Life

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The follow-up to This American Life: Lies, Sissies & Fiascoes features another two discs of selections from the Public Radio International show hosted by Ira Glass. The first disc contains stories about crime fighters and detectives, including rookie cops wreaking havoc on a house while trying to catch a squirrel ("Squirrel Cop") and Glass going on a real-life stakeout with Detective Jonathan Rosenberg ("Watching the Detective"). The second disc features stories about communication and miscommunication, including David Sedaris describing the fumbling attempts of beginning French students to describe Easter and Sarah Vowell recounting the lessons she learned in high school marching band. Some pieces on the album are relatively low key and serious (e.g., "Loser," in which Matt Malloy reads an Aimee Bender story about a boy who has the power to find objects), while others are more animated and flippant (e.g., "The Greatest Phone Message of All," in which Jonathan Goldstein investigates a message that became a cult hit on a college campus), but most of the pieces tend to be humorous (although the pacing and structure of individual pieces are closer to short stories than to standup or sketch comedy). In addition to "Everyone Speaks Elton John," in which Starlee Kine and Jon Langford (Mekons, Waco Brothers, Three Johns) assemble a band from musicians they found in classified ads, the album also contains background music from los Amigos Invisibles, John Lurie, and others.

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