Thursday, April 3, 2008

GOOD GOD! MORE ALBUM REVIEWS!

Jeez!  This was a big week for new music releases.  So I'm gonna make each one short.

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R.E.M. - Accelerate

Great album!  As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm still just coming into my consciousness with these guys, but I really enjoyed this latest effort.  As the band said last night on The Colbert Report, the album is called "Accelerate" because they "just wanted to play a bunch of fast, loud songs", and that's kinda what this is.

Half the songs are fast, all of them become loud at least at some point, but they're all pretty decent.

My favorite tracks include, "Living Well Is The Best Revenge," "Supernatural Superserious," "Accelerate" and the all-out rocker "Horse To Water" which reminds me a lot of "It's The End of The World As We Know It" - that kind of energy.  "I'm Gonna DJ" is a fun tune, too - loud and brash and just a fun rocker.  The iTunes bonus track "Redhead Walking" is also very cool, in a 60's go-go rock/"96 Tears" kinda way, with that kinda organ thing beneath some heavy guitar riffs.  Very retro.

Definitely worth downloading at least the most popular tracks.  Check it out.

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The Raconteurs - Consolers of the Lonely

Jack White - back again - and this is definitely a group that has a slightly different edge than The White Stripes (maybe it's the bass guitar).  White's compositions are boldly experimental, but they rock.  This sophomore effort from the Detroit quartet is a great rock album, even if it gets pretty mellow at times.  (But even when things are mellow, you can't be sure that things won't kick into high gear at the drop of a hat... or vice versa.)

I'm still getting to know this album, but so far my favorite songs include "Salute Your Solution", "Old Enough", "The Switch and The Spur", "Rich Kid Blues" and "These Stones Will Shout".

This is an album that may not get a ton of radio play, but each track has a very distinct personality.  White is emerging as quite the rock prodigy and this is a collection of tunes that demonstrate his brilliance of composition.  He masterfully combines classical folk patterns with an alternative flair and his unbridled wailing vocals copyright the sound as all his own.

Great album.  I'll be exploring it for some time.

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Joe Satriani - Professor Satchifunkilus and The Musterion of Rock

Yep.  That's the title.  Awesome, huh?

This is, all-in-all, just another Satriani album; a bunch of instrumental guitar songs.  None of them stand out very far from one another, but the best track is definitely the album closer (not counting the iTunes Bonus track) "Andalusia" - a nearly 7-minute epic that starts off with a 2-minute flamenco-style clean acoustic sound, which is beautiful and tonally pleasing enough as it is, but then gets more aggressive and heavy with bass and electric guitar over the jangling acoustic rhythm, and things just continually climb until the end of the song, where things reach their climax and then smoothly close out.  If you don't listen to anything else on this album, this one song will be enough - "Andalusia".

Other mentionables, however, include the debut of Joe's son, ZZ Satriani, on tenor saxophone on "Professor Satchafunilus", a funky (almost porno-film-music, at times) playful little ditty, and the only non-totally-instrumental track, "I Just Wanna Rock", another one of Joe's cheezy "shoulda-been-left-in-the-80s" style jams - even the video for it on his website, though entertaining and cute, is just embarrassingly lame for such an amazing musician.  (But the sense of humor is always appreciated.)  

And, apparently, the sweet (but boring and typical) Satch-ballad, "Come On Baby," was the only track in the collection that isn't exactly new, but a dusted off from a 1993 session tape, included here at the behest of young ZZ.

Again, just enjoy Andalusia, and you won't be missing out on much.

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The Rolling Stones - Shine A Light

The second live album since the release of 2005's "A Bigger Bang" (and only the third double-live album in their history), finds The Stones doing their thing and there's not much out of the ordinary going on here... except for one little thing.  The album is a bit of a teaser for the long-awaited landmark documentary film (of the same name) by Martin Scorcese, from which the music is taken.

The most noticeable difference in this album, however, is the masterful recording of the band and the obviously small venue (The Beacon Theater in New York City, a 2,800 seat concert hall on upper Broadway) which gives a very intimate feeling for such a big band, but this is no unplugged or "Storytellers" session.

What's interesting is that the set list over the two-discs doesn't include any of their hits from the last three or four albums.  It's mostly the classics and a few obscure tracks, as well as the traditional guest performances, this time by Jack White (on "Loving Cup"), Buddy Guy ("Champaign & Reefer"), and Christina Aguilera rocking out hard on "Live With Me".  (Damn, that girl can belt it out!)

There's some "this is a movie" chatter going on here and there on the album - dialogue taken from the film - as when his cinematographer explains that "If Mick stands in front of the light for more than eighteen seconds, he's gonna burn", Marty responds, "You mean like flames?  We can't burn Mick Jagger!"

At a combined average age of 63 and a half years old, these guys prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Rock & Roll is The Fountain of Youth.  They don't miss a step and they have more energy than just about any band you'll find... anywhere!  Mick's voice, of course, is the big spotlight throughout the show, and he's in top form all through-out.  But this is nothing new.

More than anything, this is the rare live album who's production value feels head and shoulders above the others.  So yes, it's a great live album.  It sounds like it was a very special night.  I can't wait to see the film..... 
 

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