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CD REVIEW: Des Ark's Don't Rock the Boat, Sink the Fucker 

The Deal: Passion fires latest from outspoken Argote.

The Good: Aimee Argote's latest razes most of the bullshit baggage she tends to lug along through these eight baptism-by-fire songs of fury and forgiveness, empathy and accusation. Rock the Boat took two years and two studios to finish, with attention to detail the sine qua non. Then nearly another year passed before its release, but the wait was worth it. The explosive small-town kiss-off "Bonne Chance, Asshole" and defiant "It's Only a Bargain If You Want It" roil with tumultuous percussion and barbed guitar lines that snap and lash like flagellants' switches. On the flip side, the It-was-beautiful-but-I-have-to-say-goodbye break-up song "Howard's Hour of Shower" and the twinkling "My Saddle Is Waitin' (C'mon, Jump On It)" seem so frail you worry they'll shatter if not for choruses that prop them up like drunken lovers. Argote's vocals embody the extremes, snarling and imploring on the aggressive numbers, half-whispered pleas and sympathetic caresses elsewhere. The subject matter can be brutal and not always leavened by grace — "Girls Get Ruff" features a rape scene that leaves the narrator looking at men like a "stockpile of weaponry." But with songs that cut this close to the skin and music that hits all its various marks, that's not at all a bad thing.

The Bad: Argote can milk the ain't-I-provocative thing — take her recent petulant anti-Charlotte screed, for instance — to the point where it says way more about her than the intended targets, a rare sour note here.

The Verdict: Cathartic, passionate and often stunningly gorgeous.

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