Issue: #346

ALBUM REVIEWS


Britney Spears,
Rivers Cuomo,
Pink,
Shane Wyatt,
Rachael Yamagata,
Green River Ordinance,
AC/DC,
Rhythm Angels,
(hed) P.E.,
Nicole Henry,
The Nighthawks,
Brian Kelly,
Ani DiFranco,
Destroy Destroy Destroy,
The Whip,
Trevor Menear,
Glasvegas,
Guy Davis,
Odds,
Jeanette Williams,
Kylie

THE HIGH FIVE!!
  • Abby and the Pipsqueaks! "Self-Titled," Pipsqueak/ClownsRus
  • Bearfoot "Live at Merlefest at Wilkesboro, North Carolina," FestivaLink
  • Mike Farris "Salvation in Lights," INO/Columbia/Sony BMG
  • The Baby Grands "Self-Titled," Backspace
  • Delirium Blues Project "Serve Or Suffer," Half Note/Blue Note
ALBUM OF THE WEEK

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Album Reviews:

Britney Spears -
Circus


Somba/Jive/Sony BMG

Losing the miniskirts and obnoxious whining, Circus is Spears at her electronic best. Per-usual, she follows in her trend-setting predecessor Madonna's footsteps and is an entirely an electro-pop artist, proving again that pop music is now in the digital dance age.


Circus marks the maturity of Spears, both musically and contextually. Her melodies have become more stylized and not just a sad copyright lawsuit waiting to happen, and while her lyrics are still the hyper-sexualized celebrity sass that they have always been, Circus marks an evolution towards a more adult version of "Hit Me One More Time".


For those knowing Britney, this is the woman reaching her climax. For the non-fans, if you have any interest in dance beats, this works better than anyone would have imagined.

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Rivers Cuomo -
Alone II: The Home Recordings


DGC/Interscope

I like this. I really do. A whole bunch of the "cut" Weezer songs (which, I personally think are far beyond the album tracks) that are recorded lo-fi and given room to really take on a full personality.


Cuomo's typical style of loser-rock and pop rock come to full shine here, mixed with his personal flavor that he adds to everything. Highly recommended.

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Pink -
Can't Take Me Home


LaFace/Arista/Sony BMG

Pink is one of the sassiest celebrities to grow out of the early 2000's solo-pop hype, with more style and personality than any to hold a Billboard chart at the time.


Can't Take Me Home, one of her earliest works, shows the dynamic ability that she held even back then. Heavily electric, Pink pulled the dance pop long before its strength as fashion today. R&B melodies, and the occasional pop serenade, Can't Take Me Home strikes a timelessness that most cannot even dream of.


***Best Album Of The Week***

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Shane Wyatt -
The Last Cowboy


Self-Released

Nashville singer/songwriter country from Shane Wyatt will give any country-music fan an experience they'll never forget. Nothing short of a sensual hick experience, The Last Cowboy leads listeners on an adventure through the depths of Wyatt: exploring what it is that makes a "real cowboy". Love, it seems, is essential.



But real cowboys have problems expressing their love. And Wyatt may be failing, writing an entire album of love songs about drinking. A stripped down Garth Brooks comes to mind when listening to this. Cowboy indeed.

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Rachael Yamagata -
Elephants...Teeth Sinking Into Heart DOUBLE CD


Warner Bros.

One of the most beautiful albums I have heard in a long time. Rachael Yamagata, beyond her incredible genius-ness of songwriting skills, has a vocal style reminiscent but not quite that of PJ Harvey or Cat Power.


The vaguely indie folk feel, but Yamagata is far from fitting any mold. Incredibly personal lyrics, mostly about heartbreak, adds the already eerily beautiful soundscapes created on Elephants. Highly recommended.



***ARTIST TO WATCH!!!***

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Green River Ordinance -
Out of My Hands


Virgin/EMI

Bad pop alternative rock. I guess this is better than most of the bands trying to sound like this, because I haven't thrown the CD against the wall yet, but it really is getting close.


The singer can sing, which is a huge advancement on other bands who want to be Say Anything and 3 Doors Down. Annoying melodies, and really stupid simple songs. I want nothing to do with this. This is what adults think is music for teenagers.

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AC/DC -
High Voltage


Epic/Sony BMG

Another in the long line of AC/DC represses, which was probably the best idea that Epic has ever had. High Voltage, another of the heavy rock prophets' early works, holds the raw sound that they held throughout their career, a little bit rawer. Yes, this may be their height. Included on here, amongst other things, is one of my favorite: "She's Got Balls."


***Shelton's Single of the Week: "It's A Long Way To The Top (If you Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)"***



***LATE BUT GREAT***


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Rhythm Angels -
Girls Like Us


High Horse

Singer/songwriter duo Celeste Krenz and Rebecca Folsom make up Rhythm Angels. Incredibly personal songs with minor additional instrumentation beyond their guitars and voices. Comparisons ring closest to late 90's acts, Jewel and the like, with an emphasis on vocal melodies more than anything else. Great harmonies all around, and really heartfelt songs, are all you'll find on Girls Like Us.



***Shelton's Second Single of the Week: "Girls Like Us"***

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(hed) P.E. -
NWO: New World Orphans


Suburban Noize/SCH

(hed) P.E. are, and have always been, an awful version of System of a Down. NWO: New World Orphans is not exempt from this rule, but, grudgingly, I have to admit it's better than their last work.


It's still nu-metal, with some unbelievably stupid riffs, but the marginal hardcore influence that is thrown in the mix makes it a baby-step more tolerable. Stupid lyrics about pseudo political concepts, and lots of really awful breakdowns and rapping, this album is still something I would never wish on anyone.



***MIGHTY, MIGHTY!!***

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Nicole Henry -
The Very Thought Of You


Banister

Jazz vocalist Nicole Henry's voice will warm any heart. Your heart, even. If you like jazz singers. Henry has an impressive voice, and despite it being far too loud in the mix, comes across beautiful in her newest full length. Originals and traditionals (Gershwin), The Very Thought Of You is what jazz singing is all about.

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The Nighthawks -
American Landscape


Powerhouse

Dirty, poppy blues from The Nighthawks. Defying their stylistic elements, American Landscape remains incredibly catchy, despite the grime and dark progressions typical of dirty blues.


Deep gruff vocals about typical blues concepts: the devil, drinking, fishing, and love. Basically, this is the epitome of contemporary blues.



***LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!!***


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Brian Kelly -
Afterplay


Skylight

I was expecting really boring jazz. Instead, this is really, really interesting jazz. No real noodling, all composition, Afterplay has a classical feel to it, progressing as an album with a vibe which borders on minimalism.

The instrumental performance is not necessarily impressive, but it doesn't have to be: the real impressiveness of this album comes from the culmination of all the voices together, not just a guitarist noodling for 60 minutes. Soothing and beautiful.

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Ani DiFranco -
Up, Up, Up, Up, Up, Up


Righteous Babe

More than anything, I am just in awe of how often DiFranco releases a new album. It honestly feels like 3 or 4 a year, which is rivaled only by club and noise musicians. And, somehow, she has yet to write a bad album.


A few hit or miss tracks throughout the years, but that's only in comparison to her ten billion other tracks. You can't be gold one hundred percent of the time.


Up, Up, Up, Up, Up, Up doesn't change her track record. Maybe even knocking her up a thousandth of a percent point by writing yet another flawless record. Her normal collection of odd sounds, dissonant harmonies, and really awkward progressions that somehow blend in beautifully with her endless concoction of pop songwriting.


There is a bit less noise than some of her contemporary releases, and bends a bit in the direction of conventional songwriting. But don't be fooled: this is the same DiFranco that it's always been.



***POLITICAL ALBUM OF THE WEEK***

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Destroy Destroy Destroy -
Battle Sluts


Black Market Activities/Metal Blade/RED

First thought when looking at the cover of Battle Sluts: "wow, this band looks awful". Thoughts on the first intro track: "wow, maybe this band isn't so bad". Thoughts after 2 minutes of the second track: "wow, I was right the first time". Really bad 3 Inches of Blood worship with more of a nu-black metal style. Metal needs to stop being stupid again.

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The Whip -
X Marks Destination


Southern Fried/Razor & Tie

Speaking of hip, here we have X Marks Destination, the first full length from Britain's The Whip. Electro-trash to the fullest. Obnoxiously dancy beats coupled with senseless lyrics, Depeche Mode are more than likely out for blood.


Unbelievably soul-less, and really very little that I would call a "rewarding quality" to this. While I am not a fan of it at all, I know most people would be: if you like bands like Boyz Noize or Justice, this could be your thing.

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Trevor Menear -
Introducing Trevor Menear


Shangri-La/Delta

Combining the direction and structure of pop music with the soulful elements of blues (as if there were elements of blues that weren't soulful...), Introducing Trevor Menear leaves very little to be desired.


Opening with "Forgot About the Man", a strong, grooving progression topped with Menear's soulful voice, really sets the mood for the entire album. Incredibly organ heavy, and a really balanced amount of noodling, this record is incredibly solid and worth checking out for anyone into the bluesy singer/songwriter types.

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Glasvegas -
Self-Titled


Columbia/Sony BMG

Scottish Glasvegas win this week for "the only band to pull of the alternative rock sound without come across looking like tools". Dreamy alternative with a just a pinch of hipster rock ala The Arcade Fire makes Glasvegas's self-titled debut a solid work in the rock world. The album, from beginning to end, flows as if tracks were a piece of the larger picture instead of just individual cogs in a machine.


Even the few points in the 55 minutes of the record that I didn't love made sense in terms of the rest of the album, justifying a few moments of downtime for the sake of the whole. Vocals are slightly whiny, but in the best way possible. For people with good taste.

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Guy Davis -
Sweetheart Like You


Red House

The son of Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee (I'm sure Guy wants nothing more than to be known as anything but) is still on the road to perfection. Sweetheart Like You is an incredibly personal, honest blues album as I've ever heard one. Slow, lots of organ, and Davis standing square in the spotlight, the album captures emotion and soul that is so lacking from blues. Heartwarming.



***Shelton's Third Single of the Week: "Sweetheart Like You,"***



"SO NICE, GOTTA DO IT UP TWICE"

(created by the original NYC D.J. Jocko, 1955)

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Odds -
Cheerleader


Second Motion/Red Eye

Oh god. Alternative rock, when done right, is perhaps the perfect genre: the right amount of pop combined with musical inventiveness and even meaningful lyrics...it can really be perfect. Look at Foo Fighters, or Everclear. Even Third Eye Blind.


But Odds? Awful singing, Beatles influenced guitar playing (which, irrelevant to The Beatles, does not work out of context), and rarely much in the music that is worth listening to. Songs are not all that catchy, but at least the guitar tone is great.

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Jeanette Williams -
Thank You For Caring


Blue Circle

Jeanette Williams plays really good run-of-the-mill bluesgrass. Nothing original here, so don't pick up Thank You For Caring expecting to find something breaking all barriers in the way of americana music.


But what it does have going for it is almost as good: solid writing, a great voice, and some phenomenal musicians. This is for those who cannot get enough banjo and O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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Kylie -
Boombox: The Remix Album 2000-2008


Astralwerks/Parlophone/EMI

Depeche Mode worshiping pop icon Kylie Minogue's remix album is a more appropriate version of her full lengths. With mostly revisited tracks (aside from the albums previously unreleased namesake), Boombox feels like a electro-trash release, which it technically is.


Lots of techno tracks layered behind Kylie's typical vocal melodies makes this sound like any other bad club album. And with the song "Can't Get Blue Monday Out of My Head", what could get worse?


***If You Like Music You're Gonna Love This***

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THIS WEEK'S SONG LYRICS:


Artist: Bob Marley

Song: War


Until the philosophy which hold one race superior

And another

Inferior

Is finally

And permanently

Discredited

And abandoned -

Everywhere is war -

Me say war.



That until there no longer

First class and second class citizens of any nation

Until the colour of a mans skin

Is of no more significance than the colour of his eyes -

Me say war.



That until the basic human rights

Are equally guaranteed to all,

Without regard to race -

Dis a war.



That until that day

The dream of lasting peace,

World citizenship

Rule of international morality

Will remain in but a fleeting illusion to be pursued,

But never attained -

Now everywhere is war - war.



And until the ignoble and unhappy regimes

That hold our brothers in angola,

In mozambique,

South africa

Sub-human bondage

Have been toppled,

Utterly destroyed -

Well, everywhere is war -

Me say war.



War in the east,

War in the west,

War up north,

War down south -

War - war -

Rumours of war.

And until that day,

The african continent

Will not know peace,

We africans will fight - we find it necessary -

And we know we shall win

As we are confident

In the victory



Of good over evil -

Good over evil, yeah!

Good over evil -

Good over evil, yeah!

Good over evil -

Good over evil, yeah!