Punk Rockers The So So Glos are aptly named: they are so-so. There is nothing on this album that makes them unique other than the last track’s last few seconds where what appears to be a recording of the lead singer as a child makes you want to keep listening on just to find out how well the kid plays. That’s about it. Average at best.
It was so great hearing Johnny Cash’s voice again singing new songs after so many years. Wow. I still can’t believe he is gone. This album features “lost tracks” that were part of a record he (or the label) decided not to release in the 1980s. Johnny’s voice is strong and still somewhat fresh when compared to his later recordings. This was a special treat of a kind that unfortunately may never come around again. I tend to prefer his last few albums that are darker and in which his voice is more somber and cracking… but I can’t ever complain about a Johnny Cash album.
Legendary artist Peter Gabriel has finally released the second part of his “scratch” series. The first album, Scratch My Back, was a collection of covers that Gabriel hoped would be reciprocated by the covered artists. But things didn’t quite work out, so he found a few who were willing to step in for those who declined the venture. And I’ll Scratch Yours is the result of this drama… a collection of weird songs that have as the only commonality Gabriel’s weirdness. There are three high points in this collection, though, that merit mentioning: Arcade Fire, Paul Simon, and Lou Reed were able to turn boring Gabriel songs into enjoyable oases in this otherwise desert of weirdness.
Young The Giant’s second album is not nearly as good as their first one. I could be wrong, but it seems that this Indie Rock band has apparently hit the ceiling as far as creative potential. The songs are not very energetic and lack the intensity of newcomers who should be set on conquering the world.
This was a very entertaining lunch to the sound of will.i.am and his special guests, including Britney Spears, Miley Cyrus, and even Justin Bieber. As previously indicated here, Rap is not among my favorite genres… but there are a few artists out there who make great music and are smart about how they go about doing it. The Black Eyed Peas are a very good band, and in my opinion this is will.i.am’s best solo work to date–he had been outdone by Fergie’s mega-successful debut album but now he may have caught up with her.
What a strange name for a band! The Milk Carton Kids put together a very good, relaxing album. They sound like Simon & Garfunkel, and their acoustic guitar solos are reminiscent of the 1950s Bossa Nova technique of Luiz Bonfá–but with more dissonance. The weakness in this album is that all songs sound the same… it was very easy to tune out only to realize that 3 songs had gone by with no obvious breaks in rhythm. If you’re looking for some calm, folksy music, this it!
OK, I was seriously fooled by the first song on this album. The opening track is very bad and seemed not to have much in common with the name of the band… and then it became obvious that it had nothing in common with the rest of the record either. But the following tracks were very good, as in a mixture of Natalie Merchant and Norah Jones kind of good. As long as the music had a slow beat and a jazzy feel, it was outstanding. Hurray For The Riff Raff are definitely an Indie band to watch!