Album of the Month

Kid Rock keeps the faith on new album

  • Article
  • 7 October 2007
Since "Devil Without a Cause" propelled him out of Detroit clubs and into the national consciousness, Kid Rock has churned out a series of what you might call dust discs: albums colorful and lively enough to stir fans' interest, but not remarkable enough to earn longtime listening. They got bought, they got played ... then wound up gathering dust on a shelf.
The Michigan star may escape that fate with "Rock N Roll Jesus," his first studio effort since 2003 and his stickiest collection of songs in nearly a decade. That doesn't mean the album is some transcendent creative masterpiece, despite what Rock himself appears to believe, given the album's occasionally earnest tone. But within the Kid Rock universe, amid the expectations and standards that operate there, "Rock N Roll Jesus" is a standout record.The album, a celebration of classic rock and of Rock's own distinct redneck-fab world, is the most soundly designed, thought-out record since "Devil" in 1998. If nothing else, the album's early stretch -- led by the funk-touched title track and the message song "Amen" -- reveals work as tuneful as anything he's ever put to tape.This is Kid Rock on a classic-rock bender. Robust drums and brown-toned guitar leads chug along like an afternoon at WCSX. The shredded vocal that Rock has steadily mastered since he morphed from suburban rapper into hard-rock singer is more finely tuned, the full-throttle shouts giving way to more mobile melodies.More than anything, it all sounds familiar -- brimming with the sorts of catchy hooks and concert-ready choruses that have long appealed to classic-rock listeners. And while that accessibility is the album's biggest strength, it's also the greatest vulnerability. In summoning a vintage vibe, Rock risks accusations that he's committed an easy cut-and-paste act.
Nowhere is that more glaring than the beach-bummy "All Summer Long," a writing collaboration with old friend Uncle Kracker, which sits atop the well-worn piano riff of Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London" and laces itself up with a Lynyrd Skynyrd guitar lick. Sympathetic listeners might say Rock is simply applying hip-hop's sampling culture to a rock 'n' roll format; the less forgiving will charge him with taking shortcuts.Besides some lyrical lifting on "Don't Tell Me U Love Me" (from Steve Miller and Jim Croce, among others), the borrowing is more subtle elsewhere. Produced with a hand from Green Day maestro Rob Cavallo, the album plays up standard Rock themes -- women, whiskey, wild times -- through a batch of fun, rollicking songs. As always, it's about escaping the hard life to find the good life through music that's larger than life.There are dismissable moments: "Sugar," the album's lone old-school rap tune, is a throwaway cut; "Blue Jeans and a Rosary" is a clumsy take on Seger-style redemption; "So Hott," the sex-drenched lead single, isn't just the worst song on the album, it's possibly the worst song of Rock's two-decade career. The chintzy "Half Your Age," presumably a jab at ex-gal Pamela Anderson, is wisely positioned in an easily skippable spot: at the end of the disc.
But "Rock N Roll Jesus" is an otherwise solid effort -- and an album that will come as welcome relief for fans who'd like to get some long-term mileage out of their Kid Rock records. This report is provided by

Elton John, The Captain and the Kid

  • Article
  • 18 September 2006
Elton John, well known at this stage in his career for his flamboyance, has taken a back to basics approach on his 44th album The Captain and the Kid. With his long-time collaborator Bernie Taupin, Elton has re-approached his classic 1975 album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (the first album ever to debut at Number 1 on the Billboard chart). That album was an autobiographical document of two starving artists getting started in the music business, and their ambitions for the future. More than 30 years later, The Captain and the Kid tells a very different story, but it's no less personal or ambitious. Think of it as a sequel: where Captain Fantastic... was full of youthful optimism and big dreams, The Captain and the Kid catches up with those two characters to find that their dreams have come true in a big way, and the route that was taken to get there. It's therefore a more mature album, but not a more modern-sounding one, something that's very much to its credit. John and Taupin are a masterful songwriting duo, and they rely on the basics that brought them continued success: Elton's piano and voice at centre stage, delivering Taupin's lyrics (in fact, on "Blues Never Fade Away" and the heartfelt "The Bridge", it's nearly two minutes before any other instruments are heard). The Captain and the Kid is a rare and remarkable feat for a musician; it showcases Elton John at the height of his fame, not attempting to recapture his youth, but reexamining his career. It's an intelligent and thoughtful album, and Elton John's finest in many years.

BOB DYLAN ''Modern Times''

  • Article
  • 17 August 2006
Bob Dylan's first new album in five years, Modern Times, will arrive in stores and online August 28th. The artist's 44th album features 10 new Bob Dylan songs recorded this winter with Dylan on keyboards, guitars, harmonica and vocals, accompanied by his touring band.Song titles on Modern Times include Thunder On The Mountain, Spirit On The Water, Workingman's Blues, and When The Deal Goes Down.Columbia Records US Chairman Steve Barnett stated, "A new Bob Dylan record is an event. Bob is that rare artist whose music defies all trends and resonates throughout all levels of our culture, and he continues to be as contemporary and relevant as any artist in music. We're approaching Modern Times as the third release in an outstanding trilogy of recorded works – along with Time Out Of Mind and Love and Theft. This is a staggering record by any standards, and is a major priority for our company, worldwide."
Bob Dylan is one of the world's most popular and acclaimed songwriters, musicians and performers, having sold nearly 100 million albums and performed literally thousands of shows around the world in a career spanning five decades.
His most recent studio albums, Time Out Of Mind and Love & Theft have been among his most commercially successful and critically lauded, each having sold more than a million copies in the U.S. and earning Grammy nominations for Album Of The Year (Time Out Of Mind won that award in 1998).
He wrote and recorded Things Have Changed for the 2000 film Wonder Boys, for which he received both the Academy Award and Golden Globe. The first volume of his memoirs, Chronicles, was one of the most acclaimed and best-selling non-fiction works of 2004, and last year's No Direction Home film, directed by Martin Scorsese, captivated audiences worldwide as it documented Dylan's early career and rise to fame. The film won a Peabody Award in 2006.Bob Dylan's weekly XM Satellite Radio show, Theme Time Radio Hour, debuted in May and has quickly become one of that network's most popular programs.

Thom Yorke - The Eraser [Explicit Lyrics]

  • Article
  • 31 July 2006
"Don’t call it solo," says Thom Yorke of The Eraser, "It doesn’t sound right". Here, then, is the first – hmm, let’s say one-man record from the vocalist of Radiohead, an excursion in electronic beats and synthetic textures hailed by many critics as a return to Radiohead’s 2000 album, Kid A. Strictly speaking, though, he’s right – it’s not solo: produced and "arranged" by long-time ‘Head producer Nigel Godrich, featuring processed sounds taken from full-band sessions, and featuring at least one song originally mooted for appearance on Hail To The Thief, it appears as much an opportunity for Thom to build on the ideas not fully realised on full-band releases. Rock fans may lament Radiohead’s shifts away from guitar, bass and drums, but it’s hard to deny just how well Thom’s voice fits amid the hissy cymbals and spectral synthesiser of ‘The Eraser’ and ‘Black Swan’. Guitar surfaces on the haunting ‘The Clock’, Thom singing "You throw coins in the wishing well" over warped, droning folk, while album highlight ‘Harrowdown Hill’ strikes a rare explicitly political note for Thom, a track themed around the death of UN Weapons Inspector David Kelly. Written by Louis Pattison

Raconteurs ''Broken Boy Soldiers''

  • Article
  • 10 June 2006
The Raconteurs are a new band made up of old friends, consisting of Jack Lawrence (bass), Patrick Keeler (drums), Brendan Benson (guitars, vocals, keys) and Jack White (guitars, vocals, keys). The seed was sewn in an attic in the middle of a hot summer when friends Jack White and Brendan Benson got together and wrote a song that truly inspired them. This song was "Steady, As She Goes" and the inspiration led to the creation of a full band with the addition of Lawrence and Keeler. While each of these four individuals have had successful careers with their own bands, the culmination of all of their talents is what truly makes The Raconteurs a force to be reckoned with.The quartet convened at Benson's East Grand Studio to lay down the basic tracks for Broken Boy Soldiers. Work would continue whenever the boys could get together over the next year. The band is now, for its members, all consuming and they now present themselves to be consumed, or at best simply heard.
From the ready-made, radio-friendly quality built into songs like "Steady, As She Goes", to the explosive tenacity of "Store Bought Bones", all the way down to the "hits the cockles of your heart" lullabies that encompass the full length recording, The Raconteurs are more than capable of conquering any genre challenge or tale that they encounter. After all, a raconteur is, by definition, a deft storyteller. And now a new story is unfolding.Written by

Paul Simon 'Surprise'

  • Article
  • 12 May 2006

It may be the most appropriate album title from Art Garfunkel's former foil since There Goes Rhymin' Simon. Certainly few would have expected the singer-songwriter to celebrate his 65th year by recruiting producer Brian Eno to program some state-of-the-dance beats behind alternately folky and funky songs.Not that Simon has gone all Cher on us; in Eno's hands, the electronic touches are subtle ... if not always appropriate (i.e., yay to the moody How Can You Live in the Northeast; nay to the tepid Outrageous).
That subtlety is important, as Simon has a lot to say about the sorry state of the union, and about the declining tolerance evident in the society the New Yorker once beheld with such wonder. The America of How Can You Live is less welcoming than was that of, say, America. And the artist makes clear in the powerful Wartime Prayers, easy answers will no longer suffice: "People hungry for the voice of God hear lunatics and liars."
Yet, ever the comforting soul, Simon literally brings it back home with the final track, an affectionate ode to his daughter that advises her simply to "help the human race."That, after all, is the spirit of Paul Simon's America.

Track Listing:

1. How Can You Live In the Northeast
2. Everything About It Is A Love Song
3. Outrageous
4. Sure Don't Feel Like Love
5. Wartime Prayers
6. Beautiful
7. I Don't Believe
8. Another Galaxy
9. Once Upon A Time There Was An Ocean
10. That's Me
11. Father And Daughter          This report is provided by

Yeah Yeah Yeahs ''Show Your Bones''

  • Article
  • 12 April 2006
It's a comeback with more expectation than most. How could, for instance, Yeah Yeah Yeahs surpass the sass, sex and unsubtlety of their debut, Fever To Tell. The could try, of course, but as we've seen by the failed comebacks of, well, everyone who's had as much first-round hype - that would just be foolish.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs go for the safer option of changing their sound, but it's only a safer option if it works. Show Your Bones is their alleged opus. "Gold Lion" and "Way Out" are as slow-burning and Karen O's trademark howl has eroded to a melodic yelp. "Phenomena" has the attack and tussle of Nick Zinner and Brian Chase behind it - and it sounds just like old times.
It has to be said that Karen's voice, as sweet as it can be (see "Cheated Hearts" or the nursery rhyme of "Dudley") can scrape its way through songs. "Honeybear"'s disco break is flanked by her screeching making it all but unlistenable in parts, and the soft chugging of "Mysteries" is tainted by the occasional high-octane wail. Its when the music matches her voice that Yeah Yeah Yeahs reach their potential.
"The Sweets" is biggest leap on the album. Acoustic guitar and a swaggering dusty drum trail behind the song like the littlest fashionista. And it doesn't stop there. "Warrior" is more of the same with Karen's haunting vocals, and probably the finest song on the album, and closer "Turn Into" is set to be the band's swansong.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs did the smart thing with Show Your Bones - they've stripped themselves of Fever to Tell and addressed the issues that it left behind: Can Karen O actually sing? Yes. Can they write a song that doesn't sound like a 8-car pile-up at 4am? Yes. And Can they follow their album with something worth listening to? Yes - but be prepared, this one will grow on you.This report is from

Placebo – 'Meds' (Virgin) Released 13/03/06

  • Article
  • 13 March 2006
After a two year gap since their last studio album ‘Sleeping With Ghosts’, Placebo have made an explosive return to form, as ‘Meds’ delivers a dark assortment of loss, confusion, revenge, love, addiction and dependence. Recorded over an eight week period at London’s RAK studios, ‘Meds’ confirms that although 10 years in maturity, Placebo are back to the top of their game.
 First single from the album ‘Because I Want You’ is an impassioned plea to not give up on love as it strips down the studio synthetics and goes back to true rock’n’roll fundamentals as the soaring guitar melodies and powerful tempo intensify the craving for love. Tracks ‘Blind’ and ‘Drag’ build parallel dimensions with fragile notions of dependence as Brian Molko sings on ‘Blind’ “Don’t go and leave me, and please don’t drive me blind”.
 Fierce acoustic strumming and a possessive drum beat on opening track ‘Meds’, which features the vocals of Alison Mosshart (aka VV from The Kills) as Brian tells the tale of freaking out because of forgetting to take medication. A theme which is taken to a darker level on ‘In The Cold Light Of Morning’ as the reliance and desperation for drugs is described by the blear eyed shame of the bathroom mirror in a narcotic comedown. Michael Stipe (the guru of REM) also features on the album as ‘Broken Promise’ delivers a volatile interpretation of falling into a sense of naivety resulting in the paranoia of mistrust and the strive for revenge.‘Meds’ is however as strangely warming as it is unnerving as tracks ‘Space Monkey’ and ‘Follow The Cops Back Home’ are mysteriously haunting, yet provide an emotional passion and ballad-esque sense of longing to an album that poises power and angst with fragile insecurity. Unnervingly

The Like - Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking?

  • Article
  • 28 February 2006
Are You Thinking What I'm Thinking?Much music these days is either catchy stuff or soft balladry. The Like take the middle path, creating a perfect mix of the catchy and the sublime. It's an album that will leave you finding more with each listen. And Z Berg's voice sounds wise beyond her years. I LOVE the Like....and they're really good live, too. So don't pass it up if you get the opportunity! We've played with them a number of times and they're always great!

Arctic Monkeys - 'Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not'

  • Article
  • 1 February 2006
Here aboard an unflinching wall of hysteria unparalleled in recent times, it’s little wonder that some are slightly sceptical about the Arctic Monkeys’ debut. We’ve all seen the hype, the almost endless tabloid and broadsheet column inches, the music press talking about the Sheffield foursome in unnervingly hallowed language, we’ve shook our heads in amazement at the self-professed ‘Arctic Army’ paying upwards of 100 pounds on eBay to see their unlikely looking heroes, not to mention the bewildering fanatical reaction to their live shows. Fookin’ hell even Noel Gallagher has heard of them! So while they’re uniting ‘mainstream’ music lovers and notching up number ones, already the tiny minority on the fringes are giving them the cold shoulder – as Alex Turner rightly predicted, it’ll soon be cool to hate the Arctic Monkeys. Yet to pigheadedly cast ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’ aside you would miss out on a truly fantastic album.