New Release Round Up 3/30/10 – 39 Instant Album Reviews

by Tony Butterworth on April 1, 2010

Paul and Storm have a new album, and are the only ones in this column who've been interviewed by us.

Instant album reviews is my favorite weekly column on the web, I use it as a way to filter out the list of stuff to decide what to listen to. With Pouria off in foreign lands, they needed a suitable fill in but since they couldn’t find one, you get me.  I’ve been honing my pithy comments and I’m ready to go.

New Amerykah Part Two: The Return Of The Ankh – Erykah Badu.  The opening synth bass made by brain hurt. Despite her spelling issues I’ve liked some stuff in the past.  Jazzy, RnB like, I’m sure it will be popular but I just can’t listen to this style of music.

Raymond v Raymond – Usher.  Another one I start off suspecting I will not like and the first two minutes would not make me change my mind.  Usher is a great singer and he’s done some wonderful stuff but I’ll never understand what makes these guys think they need to go all “creative.”  This creativity almost always overwhelms the singing and the great voice.   Having said all that it’s ends up quite listenable.  The voice is good, if unnecessarily auto-tuned at times.  It features all you’d expect, the dance tunes, the guests and the ballads.  I was ready to move on but kept listening.

Freight Train – Alan Jackson.  Country with a twang. A lot more country than pop here (I prefer a bit more fizz in my Nashville). “Til The End”, sung with Lee Ann Womack is a great country weepy ballad. “Freight Train” itself is another stand out track – if you like this kind of thing.

All In Good Time – Barenaked Ladies.  I had forgotten about these guys until the Olympics, then I saw them last weekend on VH-1 during one of my middle of the night video show recording.  They used to have an appropriately cheeky attitude but opener “You Run Away” seems way too serious and could pass as their countrymen Nickleback if you roughed up the singing a bit. A few songs in and sadly this is your father’s, let’s cash in, Barenaked Ladies.  Listenable and forgettable.

Weapons of Self Destruction – Robin Williams.  Robbie has another album out, what happened to the Take That reunion.  Oh crap it’s a Robin Williams comedy album with no music whatsoever.

Somewhere Down The Road – Amy Grant.  I used to really like Amy Grant, that song she did with Vince Gill is great, but then she went all Christian and lost her way.  Last I saw her she was playing at the high school in Morgan Hill, CA.  Maybe this is Christian music but it sounds more like The Eagles.

Wu Massacre – Ghostface Killah, Raekown, Method Man.  I’m in no way anti-rap, but there’s something inherently wrong with 40-year old men talking and acting like 18-year old’s.  The rap is OK but I’m overwhelmed by melancholy about my own age.

Legendary – Rick Ross.  More rap, but less angry and much better, though Snoop Dogg should have patented this approach.  Cool it’s Jay-Z. 29 songs = value for money.

Revenue Retrievin’: Day Shift – E-40.  Rap again, lots of sound effects, somehow seems more original than the last two but he raps so fast I can’t keep up.

Timstretch – Bassnectar. Bassnectar is a freeform electronic music and social experimentation project based in San Francisco, California, or so I read in the bio.  Lots of bass but much less nectar (they really threw me a softball there).  It’s sounds exactly like you would think from that description, lots of noises, bass, breakbeats, layered with rap like vocals.

The Early Recordings – John McLaughlin.  Light lounge pop ballads. Not too bad, if quickly boring.  Many of the songs sound like they came straight from a Disney movie.  Definitely a change of pace after the few rap and dance albums that preceded it. Kind of a less sarcastic Ben Folds feel at times.

Nonstoperotik – Black Francis.  I really like this one.  It’s plain, simple, noisy rock.  I really don’t know much about The Pixies and haven’t really listened to any Black Francis but if you like your post punk rock made nice and simple but with a flourish then this is an album for you.

I Will Be – Dum Dum Girls.  With so many albums out every week we don’t have the chance to review them all so something has to draw us in, it could be a big name, the cover or the album title but of course in this one it’s the band name, who can resist.  Simple beat driven rock to be found here, the songs are remarkably similar to Black Francis but sung by girls (Dum Dum Girls in fact).  All but two songs are under three minutes long which is nice and refreshing.

Paper Tongues – Paper Tongues.  Not sure if these guys can decide if they want to be. Linkin Park or Adam Lambert or Rob Thomas, listenable and totally forgettable modern rock with a beat. All the songs are over four minutes which is not as nice or refreshing.

Medicine County – Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs.  This time it was the band name of course. A strange mix of twee female rock, country, and traditional sounds, all attempting (and for me failing) to be mixed together with a large dose of cool.

This Charming Life – Joan Armatrading.  This one gets a review for old times sake since I remember Joan fondly from my youth.  It’s kind of what you’d expect music made by a middle aged guitarist to be, but on the whole it’s amiable and enjoyable.  The songs and singing and guitar playing are all good, but the somewhat random introduction of synths and beats less so.

Drag Race – Ru Paul. Someone has definitely been listening to a lot of Lady GaGa.  This is pretty solid dance music, the kind I hear the exercise classes using when I’m in the gym.  It’s actually kind of catchy.

Love To Live – The Living Sisters.  The result of what happens when you gather three indie superstar female singer/songwriters.  At times it sounds terribly old fashioned and other times very similar to one of my favs from last year, God Help The Girl.  It’s all very clever but the end all very boring.

Rumors – Frank Kimbrough.  Oops, this is Jazz, I can’t stand Jazz, move along.

Out of our Minds – Melisaa Auf Der Maur.   Well this could fill a hole (ha ha, thank you, try the veal).  Don’t judge this album on the first song – “The Hunt” – which is terrible and quite different from what follows.  What follows is some pretty enjoyable rock that tries just a tad too hard to be different.

J is for Jackson 5 – The Jackson 5.  Hey these guys are good, especially the kid singer.  That guy could go far.

Super #1’s – Intocable. Fun Latin music of the kind I usually only hear in the local burrito palace.

28 Days Later – Gorilla Zoe.  Please take the rap section reviews above and randonly mix the words, remove the Jay-Z reference and create your own comment on this one.

The Buzzcocks Live – The Buzzcocks.  One of my favorite all-time bands. No idea when this was recorded, I cannot find any info about it, they do sound young though.  It’s fantastic stuff.

Yeah So – Slow Club.  A male/female acoustic guitar playing duo.  Nice tunes, nice harmonies, nice snarky lyrics.  Not too bad.  Oops, song #2 is completely different, a full band rocker. And so it goes, a mix of styles, pretty interesting really.

35 Premium Sound Effects – Sound Effects.  This is cool, if you like the “sound of starting a bath” or the “sound of someone knocking on a door” then this may be the album for you.

Apartment Sessions [featuring: Surfjan Stevens and Denison Witmer] – Rosie Thomas. That long title suggests a record company who does not think this music can stand on its own.  More acoustic guitar with beautiful female harmonies (to think this once seemed new and refreshing). All the songs have REALLY annoying parts at the beginning where they talk, I think these are live recordings in an apartment.  Not bad if, once again, ultimately kind of boring.

Down The Way – Angus and Julia Stone. Indie style female vocals again though this time over more of a rock based full band sound.  I swear some of these ladies put too much effort into sounding twee and should just sing sometimes.  There is definitely some originality in here, when the guy,  Angus I assume, sings it is less interesting and with two songs OVER six minutes they lose points.  Quite enjoyable actually.  I like these review sessions because I listen to stuff I would otherwise never have heard of and I’m pleasantly surprised with no expectations to disappoint.

Love Will Find a Way – Steve Green.  Generic Christian rock with some completely opaque lyrics.  I have a hard time with completely literal lyrics at the best of times but this is really rammed down your throat.  Probably fits the genre though.  It’s definitely better than the church music of my youth.

Once Upon a Night – Ferry Corsten. 25 songs and 2 hours 30 minutes of music here.  As far as I can tell this is is a compilation of most instrumental electronic music with a bit of a dance beat. All the songs are long and you feel like you’ve heard them somewhere before.

Black Tambourine – Black Tambourine. Ah, here we go, this is in the Brit Rock category.  Female etheral vocals, sounding like Elastica who I was listening to the other day.  All these songs sound the same, noisy distorted pop/rock with anthem like female vocals.  Not the worst of the week but it didn’t keep me interested.

Man From Another Time – Seasick Steve.  Seasick Steve is huge in the UK for some reason.  In the home recording world in which I live there are thousands like him (older guys recording rock n roll with quirks). I don’t see what makes him any different.  To me, it’s self indulgent and I don’t like it much.

I See The Sign – Sam Amidon.  Kind of strange and kind of interesting.  There is definitely something cool about this and I’ll let you know when I figure out what it is.

Mr Nice Guy – Ronnie Laws.  Sweet dance pop that sounds like it was made in the 70’s and a little research reveals that it was.

Happen Again – Andy Kim. A standard set of harmless, at times entertaining, earnest one man band light rock.  Not bad but I’m gonna forget all about it soon.

Kids Get’n Fit With The Hits – Kids Hit Masters. On the plus side they want the kids fit but they need to spend some time on grammar also.

Do You Like Star Wars ? – Paul and Storm.  Classic comedy music, anyone who can write an ode to Frogger is OK in my book. Then you get to the new classic “Lose The Gonads” and we know we’re on the same wavelength.

Kids Tribute to Justin Bieber – Kids Hits Masters. Now this is becoming surreal.  A kids tribute to….another kid

Blues For Tony – Alan Pasqua, Chad Wackerman, Allan Holdsworth, Jimmy Hisplip.  Just Because

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Dakin April 1, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Just gotta throw this out, but Amy Grant was always a religious singer. She’s only done a handful of secular works.


lugmar April 3, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Rock journalism is people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t talk, in order to provide articles for people who can’t read.

-frank zappa


Tony April 3, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Good point Lugmar, I wonder what he would say about people who use other people’s quotes on comments threads 🙂


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