CD Review: Lady Antebellum – OWN THE NIGHT

Lady Antebellum - OWN THE NIGHT | ©2011 Captiol Records

Distributor: Capitol Records Suggested Retail Price: $9.99 At some point, when pop radio went bland and soulless, country artists started to adapt the hooky stylings that made them appeal to people who missed the good old days. Shania Twain perhaps paved the way with music that was country in labeling only (she was secretly a pop star, even if steel guitars were playing in the background). She even proved that theory with a two-disc set that had the songs mixed for country radio stations AND rock radio. Now, many country artists teeter on that thin line and no more blatant […]Read On »

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CD Review: PAJAMA CLUB – self-titled debut

PAJAMA CLUB | ©2011 Lester Records

Fans of CROWDED HOUSE may be a bit surprised at the new side project by co-founder Neil Finn. The singer-songwriter, who has made a fine career out of expert pop craftsmanship that has evoked the best of the Beatles at times, tries something completely different with Pajama Club. Created with his wife Sharon (who shares vocals with him), the album is more synth heavy and totally alternative in sound and feel than Crowded House. The beautiful melodies and harmonies Finn and Crowded House are known for have been replaced by chunkier musicianship and songs that take a few listens before […]Read On »

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CD Review: Tori Amos – NIGHT OF HUNTERS

Tori Amos - NIGHT OF HUNTERS | ©2011 Deutsche Grammophon

You never quite know which direction Tori Amos is going to zigzag in. She’s an avant garde pop princess who burst onto the scene in the early ‘90s as that decade’s answer to Kate Bush. Her piano playing was impeccable and her knack for catchy songwriting with deep messages made her debut LITTLE EARTHQUAKES a phenomenal and still potent debut. Since then she’s followed the beat of her own offbeat drummer with highs and lows. She never sits still long enough to question her decisions and her latest NIGHT OF HUNTERS is perhaps the most challenging work to date. It’s […]Read On »

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CD Review: Lady Gaga – BORN THIS WAY

Lady Gaga - BORN THIS WAY | ©2011 Interscope Records

Distributor: Interscope Suggested Retail Price: $12.99 You have to hand it to Lady Gaga. She loves to let her freak flag fly, and she’s done such an amazing job of cultivating this performance-art persona, that she’s become more famous for what she wears, rather than what she’s actually singing. That of course is the big dichotomy her career is facing. She’s clearly pushed the envelope as far as she can with her costumes, and now, she really needs to start bringing the attention back to the fact that she’s not that bad a singer and a pretty accomplished songwriter (even […]Read On »

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Music Review: Bruce Springsteen – “Gotta Get That Feeling”/“Racing in the Street” 10 inch single (Record Store Day 2011 Exclusive)

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band -"Gotta Get This Feeling"/"Racing in the Street" ('78) | ©2011 Columbia

Distributor: Columbia Records Suggested Retail Price: $6.99 After the exceptional box set THE PROMISE which provided not only a remastered version of DARKNESS ON THE EDGE OF TOWN, but also through in a bonus disc dubbed THE PROMISE of 21 additional tracks that were shelved in favor of a different approach to what eventually became DARKNESS, now we get a post-script to that side project. Springsteen and his E Street Band are releasing a DVD and Blu-ray on the making of DARKNESS and have culled two live cuts for this special Record Day 2011 exclusive. Eschewing a traditional 7 inch […]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: 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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