Rock/Pop/Etc.

CD Review: Miranda Cosgrove – HIGH MAINTENANCE

Miranda Cosgrove - HIGH MAINTENANCE E.P. | ©2011 Sony Music

Distributor: Sony Music Suggested Retail Price: $9.78 Out of all the tween singing princesses spawned from Disney Channel/Nickelodeon shows, Miranda Cosgrove has the most potential to break out and have a pretty sturdy musical career long after her core audience has moved on. Last year’s SPARKS FLY was an excellent debut CD from the iCARLY star that mixed 1980s pop and techno with a modern sensibility. There were a bunch of great tunes on that disc including “Sparks Fly,” “Disgusting” and “Shakespeare” and now she’s looking to take things to the next level with her five-song E.P. HIGH MAINTENANCE. Avril …Read On »

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CD Review: Occult Detective Club – CRIMES

Occult Detective Club - CRIMES

While it might seem easy, crafting a solid power punk album requires a couple of important ingredients that are often forgotten – namely attitude, angst, crunching guitars and short songs. This formula is strictly adhered to by Occult Detective Club on CRIMES, which delivers a tight 12 song disc that clocks a little under 30 minutes. Guitars jangle forcefully on the lead-off track “In Another Life” and segue into one cool track after another with “Our Bitter End” being the strongest, while “Calling the Detectives” provides playful wordplay and toe-tapping fun – “she’s calling the detectives/you’re gonna need an alibi.” …Read On »

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Music Review: Over the Rhine – THE LONG SURRENDER

Over the Rhine - LONG SURRENDER | ©2011 Great Speckled Dog

Things have certainly mellowed for the husband wife duo of Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist who write and perform as Over the Rhine. When they started off in the early ‘90s, they provided a perfect blend of alternative angst with Bergquist’s raspy vocals echoing a much smoother sounding Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde. While the band had its followers, they never did fully receive the credit they deserved, but have continued to produce solid efforts over the last 20 years. With THE LONG SURRENDER, the group finds themselves in a much more somber groove with  this smoky set of 13 …Read On »

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Music Review: David Lowery – THE PALACE GUARDS

David Lowery - THE PALACE GUARDS | ©2011 429 Records

Distributor: 429 Records Suggested Retail Price: $9.99 The indie music releases of 2011 has gotten off to an excellent start, with SoCal punkers Social Distortion releasing the great HARD TIMES AND NURSERY RHYMES and now Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery releasing a just as potent first solo album. Lowery makes it clear on his website, this is not an album following the break-up of either of his bands (which he tours with regularly). Instead, it’s simple a side project, which, not surprising, feels very much in synch with the work of both of his excellent groups. It’s …Read On »

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Music Review: Elvis Costello – NATIONAL RANSACK E.P.

ELVIS COSTELLO - NATIONAL RANSACK

Distributor: Hear Music Suggested Retail Price: $8.99 Elvis Costello has always been a prolific artist, and even as his career is going on his fifth decade in the business, he’s still cranking out amazing songs and albums at an accelerated pace (and that’s not counting all the reissues of his older albums with bonus tracks). Last year, he released his latest effort, the somewhat uneven NATIONAL RANSOM, a hodge podge of tracks that felt like cast-offs from MOMOFUKU and SECRET, PROFANE AND SUGARCANE. It doesn’t mean that it wasn’t any good, it was just stylistically and consistency-wise all over the …Read On »

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Music Review: R.E.M. – “Mine Smell Like Honey” single

R.E.M. - "Mine Smell Like Honey" single

It’s been some time since I’ve been excited by a new R.E.M. album. Both 2004’s AROUND THE SUN and 2008’s ACCELERATE promised greatness and a return to form, but were uneven, misshapen releases with few memorable moments. With their disc COLLAPSE INTO NOW due out March 8, the band has released its first single from that disc “Mine Smell Like Honey” which just hit iTunes and other online retail outlets. Damn, they’re back. While I’m all for a band exploring new sounds and textures, it felt like the jangly pop roots the band became famous for, gave way to more …Read On »

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CD Review: Social Distortion – HARD TIMES AND NURSERY RHYMES

Social Distortion - HARD TIMES AND NURSERY RHYMES | ©2011 Epitaph Records

While Social D is closely identified with SoCal’s punk music and have been going strong for nearly 30 years (despite long waits in between albums), HARD TIMES AND NURSERY RHYMES find the group in a particularly rockin’ mood. Some of it feels like the Southern California version of the Southern-fried rock showcased by the Black Crowes and Lynard Skynard (particularly on “California”). There’s even a bit of a Rolling Stones vibe thrown in for good measure as with the track “Can’t Take It With You” with the soulful female vocals chanting in the background.

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CD Review: TRON:LEGACY original soundtrack

Tron Legacy Soundtrack | ©2010 Walt Disney Records

It’s a cold, dark and mesmerizing world 28 years later on the game grid, so don’t expect any of the playfully lush themes that Wendy Carlos gave you geeks the first time out- unless you’re counting Jeff Bridges’ brief A Capella improv at the start of LEGACY. What you will get from electronica superstars-turned-masked composers Daft Punk is an icily epic sound that brilliantly matches the new, austerely Kubrickian imagery on thrilling display, while also delivering on the whiz-bang action pitched towards a young audience whose listening tastes have significantly evolved since the days of 8-bit Atari music- not that …Read On »

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CD Review: Christian Kane – THE HOUSE RULES

Christian Kane - THE HOUSE RULES

Distributor: Bigger Picture Group/Outlaw Saints Music Suggested Retail Price: $13.99 Although THE HOUSE RULES is his first major label release, Christian Kane has been around a good while now as a singer/songwriter. Those familiar with his music via live performance and/or independently-produced earlier records can testify that he is consistently passionate, entertaining and smooth on the ears. Good news: THE HOUSE RULES adds big-league production value to the tracks without in any way diluting Kane’s essential sound or sense of fun. Produced by Bob Ezrin and Jimmie Lee Sloas, both of whom do double-duty as musicians on the album, THE …Read On »

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The X List: Assignment X’s Best of 2010 – Albums and Singles

Gaslight Anthem - AMERICAN SLANG

10 FAVORITE ALBUMS (in alphabetical order) Daft Punk – TRON: LEGACY soundtrack There were some great soundtracks this year, but damn, these techno boys created the best John Carpenter/Alan Howarth score that the never wrote. The movie may be polarizing, but this soundtrack will make you appreciate being a user. Frightened Rabbit – THE WINTER OF MIXED DRINKS A wonderful, alternative rock find. A group whose music seeps with angst and emotion, while not sounding mainstream. This is everything Arcade Fire’s THE SUBURBS album should have been. Gaslight Anthem – AMERICAN SLANG A Jersey band with a heavy Boss influence, …Read On »

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