CD Reviews – November – 2007

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Bruce Springsteen
Magic
Sony.Records
3 out of 5
I.m going to break from the popular opinion of the mainstream music press and say that I.m not a huge fan of Bruce Springsteen.s post 9-11 music. While The Boss.s 2002 release The Rising was noble in its subject matter, it seems to have begun a pattern that repeats itself here on his latest effort, Magic. It.s a pattern of putting too much shine on a product that is supposed to have rough edges. Don.t get me wrong, Springsteen still has more songwriting talent in his little finger than many songwriters have in their whole bodies. What.s missing here, at least for me, lies in the production.

Magic.s first single, .Radio Nowhere. kicks ass, but not as much as .Murder Incorporated. did years ago. .Girls in Their Summer Clothes. is classic Springsteen story weaving, but it lacks the believability of a song like .The Ties That Bind. simply because of the slick production. All-in-all, many older artists wind up sounding like old men singing a young man.s song. In my opinion that.s not Springsteen.s trouble, his trouble is finding a way to beat his songs up a bit so they sound more like the classics they will likely become. D.J. HIppie
— Brian F. Johnson

Melissa Etheridge
The Awakening
Island.Records 3 out of 5
While nothing she.s released since has touched the power and passion of her first two albums . her 1988 self-titled debut, 1989.s Brave and Crazy, and even her breakthrough mega seller, 1993.s Yes I Am .Melissa Etheridge.s latest effort, The Awakening is a strong batch of adult songs.

Etheridge, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, chronicles her journey from the values she absorbed as a Midwestern girl (raised in Kansas) to the spiritual soul searching catalyzed by the breast cancer with a hefty dose of social, political, metaphysical, and relationship commentary in between.

The Awakening is a thematically linked piece of work that bucks the download trend of singles and is intended to be listened to from beginning to end. The album moves beyond Etheridge.s traditional relationship-heavy motif and expands out into a wider range of adult territory, in ways that are reminiscent of Lou Reed, Pete Townshend, and Bruce Springsteen. While it won.t knock any socks off, it is a mature, polished work that is worthy of the listening time.

. LJ Hammer

Buck 65
Buck 65
Situation
Strange Famous.Records
4 out of 5
So much in our society today is there just for sheer entertainment purposes, with no real redeeming qualities. Buck 65.s latest album Situation is not one of those things. The album is a concept piece, and one done with some incredibly brilliant insight as well as some good humor, poignancy and nostalgia.

Beginning with an imitated Ed Sullivan introducing Buck, Situation goes on to examine the events of 50 years ago . the year 1957. The album embodies imagined perspectives from a vast assortment of semi-fictionalized characters. The concept comes across as smart and thoughtful, as if someone wrote a really good hip-hop album in 1957 about the things they saw happening around them, the result of which is an album that speaks volumes about the times we live in now.

It.s no wonder Buck 65 is on Sage Francis. Strange Famous Records. Together, the two could be the most important and intelligent rappers of our time.

. Brian.F. Johnson
:: Buck 65 ::
:: Fox Theatre :: November 27 ::
Ian Ball
Who.Goes There
Dispensary.RecordsDispensary.Records
3 out of 5
As a member of Gomez, Ian Ball has penned some of the band.s most well-known tunes, including .Whippin. Piccadilly,. .Get Myself Arrested. and .In Our Gun.. But, following on the heels of Gomez.s biggest selling album yet, Ball has gone on to write, record and produce his own album, which he said happened all by accident.

Following a .booze filled evening. with Will Golden (a collaborator of Gary.Jules) and Phil Krohnengold (Ween), where they played everything from.Supertramp covers to their own originals, Ball began pulling out songs that he had .kinda stored up over the last few years.. A few sessions later, he had a full album worth of recorded material and he spent his free time on tour with Gomez learning ProTools and tweaking the material. By the end of the Gomez tour, Ball returned to his adopted home of Los Angeles with a completed album. While the solo work has loads of Gomez-style rock and pop, Ball also incorporates a slew of Americana on Who Goes There. It.s a strong album with some really good songs, but it.s clear that Ball shines brightest with his British chums at his side.
. Brian F. Johnson

Oblio Duo And the Archers
Nuclear War EPNuclear War EP
Independent
3 out of 5
Raw talent is the perfect way to describe Oblio Duo and The Archers. The Denver quartet, which merged the Oblio Duo of Will Duncan and Steven Lee Lawson with The Archers. Vaughn McPherson and Andy.Wild, have just followed their 2006 release The Flag with a great EP of tracks known as Nuclear War. The production value leaves a lot to be desired, coming across as a true lo-fi garage recording, but beneath that are some damn-good Gothic-Americana songs that still stand tall, and should be great live.

. Brian F. Johnson :: Oblio Duo and the Archers :: :: Meadowlark :: November 15 :: :: Lion.s Lair :: November 30 ::

Tim Pourbaix
A Pony Craig, Not GregA Pony Craig, Not Greg
Independent
4 out of 5
Tim Pourbaix (poor-bay) nails the modern singer/songwriter genre with A Pony Craig, Not Greg. The album is delicate and sensitive without being whiny or trite. It.s poppy and catchy, yet still heartfelt and sincere.

— Brian F. Johnson

:: Tim Pourbaix :: :: Larimer Lounge :: November 8 ::

Quick Spins
– By DJ.Hippie
Foo.Fighters
Echoes,.Silence, Patience and Grace
RCA Records
Instead of changing gears like they do with each release, the Foo Fighters instead include a little bit of everything on this lukewarm album. It.s far from their best work but still has enough originality to be slightly entertaining.
2 out of 5 stars

Opeth
The Roundhouse Tapes
Peaceville Records
This haunting metal group two disk live effort captures the dark band displaying their A-game for a London crowd. Mostly a release for diehard fans but potent enough to be a good starting point for the uninitiated. 3 out of 5 stars

Nikki Sixx
The Heroin Diaries
MTV.Pocket Books
Who would have guessed Nikki Sixx.s journals about his heroin addiction would have cracked the NY Times Bestseller list? It.s a great read, but the day I see Sixx on .The View. is the day I declare rock and roll D.O.A. 4 out of 5 stars

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