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Pigeon John, May 31, Neurolux

Pigeon in name only

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If you're familiar with the work of SoCal-based rapper Pigeon John, then you'll understand why, with his new release, Encino Man (April 2014, MRI) he's as dependable as ever--he can always be counted on to deliver something engaging, smart and utterly fresh.

In a February press release, Pigeon John explained why, with each successive album, he has a need to be creative.

"I'm still trying to find my voice," he said. ""That's always been the mission--getting deeper, shedding off the layers--and that's never really stopped."

Singles "Oh Yeah" and "Champagne on My Shoes" are quintessentially Pigeon John, yet are informed by different worlds: "Oh Yeah" is a rocker--he even name drops Joan Jett--while "Champagne on My Shoes" is a pop-infused jam with a sense of humor.

One sure thing about Pigeon John: Expect the unexpected.