CD Reviews – May – 2008

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Def Leppard
Songs From The Sparkle Lounge
Mercury Records
2.5 out of 5 stars
It’s obvious that Def Leppard are trying to align themselves with The Beatles with the cover of their new album Songs From The Sparkle Lounge. One look and anyone who has paid attention to popular culture over the last 50 years will instantly see the similarities to The Beatles’ hugely important Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

That said, there are a few things that the two groups have in common, and they mostly revolve around riches, fame and nationality. What the two groups don’t share is a knack for experimentation and studio trickery, and that’s where Songs From The Sparkle Lounge is a bust.

Named after a room backstage that the band utilized on their last tour to write songs and warm-up, Songs From The Sparkle Lounge continues a trend and change in sound that Def Leppard have been toying with for years. In addition, for the lengthy amount of time it takes Def Leppard to make a record, Songs From The Sparkle Lounge sounds like it was hastily thrown together.

Def Leppard seem to really be trying hard to come up with another record that captures the astounding brilliance of their earlier albums, specifically, the adventurous sound of 1987’s Hysteria, when what they should really be doing is trying to get back to the guitar rock simplicity that got them out of the drab confines of working-class England.
— D.J. Hippie

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The Backsliders
You’re Welcome
Independent
4 out of 5 stars

What a tease? When I first heard The Backsliders were putting out a new album I was psyched, especially considering that the alt-country band broke up in 1999. But this Backsliders isn’t that Backsliders, nor is it the Australian blues band that also shares the name.
But what The Backsliders lack in group-naming creativity, the Dallas-based quartet certainly make up for in songwriting. Their album You’re Welcome is a great romp through powerpop indie rock, with the sultry lead vocalist Kim Pendleton bringing a Blondie and X swagger that is genuine, raw and entertaining as hell. While the powerpop rock will hook audiences and make the clubs bounce, one of the most shining gems on the album is a slow number titled “Pass On All Your Fears,” which goes way beyond where the band’s musical inspirations ever reached.
I would thank the band for the album, but I know they’d just respond, You’re Welcome.
— Brian F. Johnson
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Scott Dale
Tiny Diamonds
Independent
3 out of 5 stars

I have often used (maybe even over-used) the phrase “a who’s who of Front Range musicians.” But I take all the others back, because no album is as deserving of that as Scott Dale’s Tiny Diamonds. He’s got the normal characters of Schochet, Thorin, Schepps and Teele, among others, but he also gets Nick Forster (Hot Rize) and even Daniel Sproul of Rose Hill Drive on this singer/songwriter/folkie album of heartfelt and heart-breaking tunes, reminiscent of The Eagles and Neil Young
— Brian F. Johnson
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Yonder Mountain String Band
Mountain Tracks Vol. 5
Frog Pad Records
These days you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a band with a live release. Some bands do them well and some do them like Yonder Mountain String Band’s Mountain Tracks series. The entire series has been impeccable in terms of sound quality and packaging and Volume 5 is no exception.
Volume 5 features the live show from July 21, 2007, as well as some additional live tracks that range from 2004 through 2007. Bassist Ben Kaufman called it a “through-the-years” set.
In an era when mediocre live recordings are traded with fervor, it’s good to know that some bands care about how their live shows are remembered.
— Brian F. Johnson
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Jessica Sonner
All We Need
Independent
3 out of 5
The title track off of Jessica Sonner’s new All We Need screams (not literally) “play me on the radio,” and while the rest of the album isn’t as blatant, it sets the stage for Sonner to highlight her diversity.
Sonner cracks her knuckles and delves in with radio-friendly tracks, bluesy Bonnie Raitt-inspired songs, and pop-folk numbers with an ease that makes it seem she’s done this all before and it’s really, really easy.
— Brian F. Johnson

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