Yes, No, or Maybe So: One-Sentence Reviews of 2009 Albums

Originally posted 2010-03-27 12:30:03. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

(Arranged in ascending order by release date)

With so many albums being released every week, what are they all like?  Which are worth your time?  These one-sentence reviews are the answers to those questions!

Battle Studies – (John Mayer) – MAYBE

(November 17, 2009) – CLICK HERE FOR A FULL REVIEW Review: Battle Studies may not be Mayer’s best work, but as a thoughtfully arranged collection of songs, it’s head and shoulders above Continuum. Top Two Tracks: “Heartbreak Warfare” – “Assassin”

Alter the Ending – (Dashboard Confessional) – MAYBE

(November 10, 2009) Review: About mid-way through, some tracks begin to blend together, but there are some standout songs that are both upbeat and engaging. Top Two Tracks: “Belle of the Boulevard” – “Until Morning”

Sainthood – (Tegan and Sara) – MAYBE

(October 27, 2009) Review: Their best work since So Jealous. Top Two Tracks: “Someday” – “Don’t Rush”

One Fast Move or I’m Gone – (Jay Farrar & Ben Gibbard) – MAYBE

(October 20, 2009) Review: Not a breathtaking masterpiece by any means, but there is a hypnotic quality to the combination of Farrar and Gibbard’s sounds and Jack Kerouac’s words. Top Two Tracks: “These Roads Don’t Move” – “California Zephyr”

The Fountain – (Echo & the Bunnymen) – MAYBE SO

(October 12, 2009) Review: Most reviews have jumped to the extremes, and mine is no exception; The Fountain is an outstanding rock album from a band that most major music magazines have essentially ignored. Top Two Tracks: “Live of a Thousand Crimes” – “Drivetime”

Forget and Not Slow Down – (Relient K) – YES

(October 6, 2009) – CLICK HERE FOR A FULL REVIEW Review: Hands down the best concept album of the year, perhaps the best album of the year overall. Top Two Tracks: “Part of It” – “Sahara”

Backspacer – (Pearl Jam) – YES

(September 20, 2009) – CLICK HERE FOR A FULL REVIEW Review: This is the album that may single-handedly be responsible for my eventual hearing loss – it’s simply too much fun not to listen to at high volumes. Top Two Tracks: “Got Some” – “Speed of Sound”

Levitate – (Bruce Hornsby & the Noise Makers) – NO

(September 15, 2009) Review: I try to avoid comparisons to past work, but this new Hornsby album is just a little too far out from the norm for my tastes. Top Two Tracks: “Space is the Place” – “In the Low Country”

A Brief History of Love – (The Big Pink) – NO, PLEASE, NO!

(September 14, 2009) Review: I’m reminded of the Byrds song “Everybody Gets Burned” – if you have any respect for rock music, steer clear of this album and do your best to never consider this band and the amazing debut release of The Band (to which their name alludes) in the same thought. Top Two Tracks: n/a

Humbug – (Arctic Monkeys) – MAYBE SO

(August 25, 2009) Review: The distance between how little I like early songs like “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor” compared with how much I like this new release is vast; overall, Humbug has a cohesive, infectious, and interesting sound, blending alternative rock/punk stylings with echoes of the Who and the Moody Blues in all the right places. Top Two Tracks: “Crying Lightning” – “Cornerstone”

My Old, Familiar Friend – (Brendan Benson) – MAYBE SO

(August 18, 2009) Review: From “A Whole Lot Better” onward, Benson’s latest release is joyful power pop that borrows generously from the sixties and seventies; it’s a great deal of fun from start to finish. Top Two Tracks: “Garbage Day” – “Misery”

Release – (Sister Hazel) – MAYBE NOT

(August 18, 2009) Review: This album is the perfect choice for background music: it is consistently upbeat without being too frenetic, certainly won’t offend anyone, and yet isn’t likely to inspire or even excite anyone either – the heinous typos in the booklet don’t help their cause. Top Two Tracks: “Vacation Rain” – “Ghost in the Crowd”

Ursa Major – (Third Eye Blind) – MAYBE NOT

(August 17, 2009) Review: There will supposedly be another 3eb release soon titled Ursa Minor, culled from tracks that didn’t make the cut for this album; suffice it to say that Ursa Major gets an “eh” and barely a “Maybe Not” rating with the so-called best songs from their recent sessions, so… Top Two Tracks: “Bonfire” – “Summer Town”

xx – (The xx) – MAYBE SO

(August 17, 2009) Review: This debut release by the xx is a gripping, murky, beautiful collection of songs that won’t fail to draw you in to their world each listen. Top Two Tracks: “VCR” – “Shelter”

The Ruminant Band – (Fruit Bats) – MAYBE SO

(August 4, 2009) Review: Aptly titled after the Fruit Bats took twice as long as usual to release this record, The Ruminant Band is worth all the extra wait time:  still quirky but with a lot more energy, backbeat, and attention to making a great album, rather than just a compilation of songs. Top Two Tracks: “The Ruminant Band” – “Singing Joy to the World”

Strange Cousins From The West – (Clutch) – MAYBE NOT

(July 14, 2009) Review: You’ll have to go back to Blast Tyrant or so if you want original, innovative Clutch; what you’ll find here is confined by the blues parameters the band has imposed on themselves – which is not to say you won’t find largely powerful performances of largely predictably structured songs and a couple true gems. Top Two Tracks: “50,000 Unstoppable Watts” – “Minotaur”

Horehound – (The Dead Weather) – MAYBE SO

(July 14, 2009) Review: The Dead Weather certainly deserve credit for having forged a unique sound and presence – Jack White best described their music as “ferocious” – but the riffing, repetition, and other indulgences can be distracting; overall, as a debut release, Horehound is promising… Top Two Tracks: “I Cut Like A Buffalo” – “Hang You From the Heavens”

Ocean Eyes – (Owl City) – MAYBE

(July 14, 2009) Review: A bit too placid for me, but I can perceive at least part of the reason that this album’s simple, soothing numbers have spread so quickly and been embraced by so many. Top Two Tracks: “Fireflies” – “The Bird and the Worm”

American Central Dust – (Son Volt) – NO

(July 7, 2009) Review: As the title implies, Son Volt’s latest album could have been found buried in a collection of Americana; while it certainly hits high points on certain tracks, the simplicity of the arrangements and even the packaging (no lyrics – really?) confine this album to mediocrity. Top Two Tracks: “No Turning Back” – “Jukebox of Steel”

Leaving Wonderland…in a fit of rage – (Marcy Playground) – MAYBE

(July 7, 2009) – CLICK HERE FOR A FULL REVIEW Review: Overall, Leaving Wonderland hits emotional pay dirt with the theme of losing love and youth to the ravages of time, and yet John Wozniak’s lyrics and arrangements leave much to be desired in terms of depth and artistry. Top Two Tracks: “Gin and Money” – “I Burned the Bed”

Wilco (the album) – (Wilco) – YES

(June 30, 2009) – CLICK HERE FOR A FULL REVIEW Review: An atypically brief release, Wilco (the album) is dominated by a wide range of interesting sounds and ideas all packed into tight tracks that ebb and flow just right; multiple listens are a must. Top Two Tracks: “Wilco (the song)” – “You Never Know”

Big Whiskey & the GrooGrux King (Dave Matthews Band) – MAYBE

(June 2, 2009) Review: “DMB” has produced a very strong album that starts off with focused, expressive tracks yet lags somewhat in the second half’s instrumental, repetitive, and nonsensical indulgences. Top Two Tracks: “Funny The Way It Is” – “Time Bomb”

Secret, Profane, and Sugarcane (Elvis Costello) – MAYBE SO

(June 2, 2009) Review: Finally, a stripped-down recording from a rock artist that doesn’t reek of the urge to “jump on the acoustic train”; Costello’s songs here could just as convincingly  have been recorded a century ago. Top Two Tracks: “Complicated Shadows” – “Sulphur to Sugarcane”

21st Century Breakdown (Green Day) – YES

(May 15, 2009) – CLICK HERE FOR A FULL REVIEW Review: Another concept album of epic proportions from Green Day:  big, in-your-face power chords at some points, acoustic guitar and piano high in the mix at others, and strong vocals all around – a well-executed album from start to finish. Top Two Tracks: “Last Night on Earth” – “East Jesus Nowhere”

Together Through Life (Bob Dylan) – MAYBE SO

(April 28, 2009) – CLICK HERE FOR A FULL REVIEW Review: As per usual, Dylan says it best: “I know my fans will like it; other than that, I have no idea.” Top Two Tracks: “Shake Shake Mama” – “I Feel a Change Comin’ On”

Tinted Windows (Tinted Windows) – NO

(April 21, 2009) Review: I remembered while listening to this that there’s a reason I stopped buying Fountains of Wayne albums since Traffic & Weather, and there’s certainly a reason I’ve never bought Hanson albums. Top Two Tracks: “Back With You” – “Nothing to Me”

Halfway There (Jim Fusco) – YES

(April 7, 2009) – CLICK HERE FOR A FULL REVIEW Review: It’s as if all of Fusco’s previous work was only “halfway there” – combining ambitious vocals, innovative guitar parts, and a track listing that boasts eleven great songs, this is easily one of the great albums of 2009. Top Two Tracks: “I Got You” – “Ruins”

The Hazards of Love (The Decemberists) – MAYBE NOT

(March 24, 2009) Review: The Hazards of Love will keep you guessing and trying to piece it all together, but it may not get a lot of immediate repeat listens based on the quality of individual songs; kudos to the Decemberists if only for keeping the concept of the concept album alive and well! Top Two Tracks: “The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid” – “The Hazards of Love 4 (The Drowned)”

No Line On The Horizon (U2) – MAYBE NOT

(March 3, 2009) Review: There’s something to be said for Bono’s energy, but it’s not always enough on this record which fluctuates between moments of mastery and moments of mediocrity. Top Two Tracks: “I’ll Go Crazy If I Don’t Go Crazy Tonight” – “Stand Up Comedy”

Keep It Hid (Dan Auerbach) – MAYBE

(February 10, 2009) Review: Essentially, what you would expect — gritty, bluesy rock with excellent guitar work. Top Two Tracks: “Heartbroken, In Disrepair” – “My Last Mistake”

Working On A Dream (Bruce Springsteen) – MAYBE SO

(January 27, 2009)  –  CLICK HERE FOR A FULL REVIEW Review: The past three Springsteen albums have been exercises in purposeful songwriting, raw acoustic and harmonica work, and upbeat pop/rock respectively — Working On A Dream has it all! Top Two Tracks: “What Love Can Do” – “Life Itself”

“The River” (Bruce Springsteen Cover)

Originally posted 2010-09-10 10:30:07. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Federico Borluzzi:

Acoustic cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “The River,” from the homonym 1980 album. Played with acoustic guitar and harmonica in the key of G.

** EDITOR’S NOTE: **

It’s been a while since we’ve hosted a Guest Session, so it is with great pleasure that I give you a Federico Borluzzi cover song music video this Friday.  He is one of our most consistently excellent guest artists and is certainly the most prolific, and he’s gone to the Boss’ first number one album for this week’s selection.

I’m always excited to see harmonica in a video, and it makes me want to break out my own on a future video…

With that said, I’ll let the video speak for itself.  (And I’ll admit, hesitantly, that I’ve never listened to The River.  I picked it up a while back, and after hearing Federico’s selection from it, I’ll be listening to it this afternoon.)

Happy Friday to all, and hurry back for more new material this weekend!

“The Wrestler” (Bruce Springsteen Cover)

Originally posted 2009-01-26 23:11:10. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

(For the chords to “The Wrestler,” go here: The Wrestler Chords)

Hello and welcome to a brand-new week of cover song music videos here at your source for the best of the best — the Laptop Sessions!

But, as much as we like to brag, we really are trying every day to fill this site with a ridiculous number of cover song material — our daily video posts, chords/tabs to your favorite songs, and much more.  We even sneak in a Fusco, Moore, and/or Copperthite original every Wednesday or so…

For today, I’m skimming off the top of the new music / new album current events pool.  Tomorrow is the official US release date of Bruce Springsteen’s 16th studio album.  It’s been less than two years since number 15, so this is exciting news!  I think his previous album, Magic, was one of the best albums of 2007 and certainly my favorite Springsteen album to date.  Now, to be fair, I’ve only listened to his more recent albums, so I reserve my right to change my mind sometime down the line…

But, back to the present.  His new album, Working on a Dream, is coming out amidst a whole lot of Springsteen mania.  For one, there’s his upcoming appearance during the half time show of Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009.  Following in the footsteps of such classic acts as Tom Petty and the Rolling Stones (who were also called out ostensibly to prevent any potential wardrobe malfunctions that may befall a younger, female act!), Springsteen’s album sales are expected to rise directly following the show.  This is opportune timing, then.  Also, two months ago, he released a greatest hits album exclusively at Wal-Mart.  Now, I must admit that I was aggravated when I heard this in the news.  After all, Springsteen is famous and much-respected for his disavowal of corporate sponsorships or endorsements.

Then, as I read some more of the article about this, I realized that it makes perfect sense.  First of all, there’s the statistic that (reportedly) 15% of his recent CD sales have come from Wal-Mart.  Also, there’s the whole Super Bowl business.  I have to admit I can’t blame him and/or his people for pushing a greatest hits out now.  I’m typically disgusted by these sorts of 12-track, almost-all-repeat-tracks-from-his-previous-greatest-hits sorts of releases.  And yet, this is what people will be looking for!  So, as Ben Folds might sing — “You’ve got to give the people what they want!”

Also, the disc is only $9.99, and it’s a limited release item (not part of his official catalog).

I find this stuff fascinating…

But, to come back to tonight’s video, let me explain why I’ve recorded “The Wrestler.”  This is the title track to the film starring Mickey Rourke that has gained the spotlight during various recent award shows.  I have yet to see the film, but I had heard that this track would be a bonus song on the new album.  Thus, I set out to learn it, loved it, and had to record it.  For those of you listening to this song now for the first time, I hope you’ll like my version and want to hear the real one.

I can’t actually vouch for the new album, as I have yet to hear anything other than the song titles from the track listing.  However, I am ecstatic for this, the first new music release of 2009 that I’m really excited for.  I’ll be out during lunchtime tomorrow or as soon as I get out of work to get it.  And, who knows, I may just push myself to write a review tomorrow night.

Crazy?  I know, but that’s what this whole Laptop Sessions thang is all about!

Oh, and before I forget, don’t miss the chords that I just posted a few hours ago here on the site.  Now you can listen AND learn to play the song yourself!

Okay, I’m off to snuggle up with a couple of my dearest friends — one, the Fusco-Moore Experience copy of the latest Rolling Stone (complete with Bruce Springsteen, aka The Boss, on the cover — predictable?  I know, but I couldn’t care less!) and my stack of midterm exams that are ripe for the grading…

See you next session!

“Brilliant Disguise” (Bruce Springsteen Cover)

By Jim Fusco:

Welcome, welcome to another edition of Jim Fusco Tuesdays here on the Laptop Sessions acoustic cover songs music video blog!  Views have been increasing by leaps and bounds here on the blog, fueled by posts by Chris that were picked up by popular Bob Dylan sites in anticipation of his new album, “Together Through Life”.  I’ll be picking that album up in a couple weeks when it comes out, but for now, I hope you’ll consider tiding-yourself over with my brand-new album, released just one week ago, “Halfway There”.  I’m very proud of it and it’s been getting some great reviews.

Onto tonight’s music video- a cover version of Bruce Springsteen’s classic song, “Brilliant Disguise”.  This is a simple, yet great, tune that actually took me a few weeks to perfect.  The choruses are very similar each time, but have very important differences, so I had to practice when each one came in.

Funny story- when my brother Mike and I were growing up, we always thought he said, “Brick in disguise”.  Of course, it probably didn’t help that our father would always sing, “Brick in the sky”.  We were never quite sure whether he was messing up by accident or on purpose.  I think the general consensus is that he just loves messing with us! :-)

I love the recorded version of “Brilliant Disguise”- that perfect clean sound that starts off with the drums and then comes in with just the right amount of synthesizer and guitar.  To me, this is what a great song should sound like.  I love the chorus, too- not only the tune, but the words.  That last time through the chorus, “You better look hard and look twice…” is so well-worded, it gets me every time.  And, it’s true- with many people at many times in our lives, we have to ask ourselves whether we’re seeing the really person or just a “brilliant disguise”.

It’s been a long week- we finally got away for a night in Providence, RI (went to the Providence Place mall and saw “Monsters vs. Aliens” in 3-D) and had a very nice time.  But, I had to do so much video work over the next three nights that it completely wiped-out any happiness I had built-up over that tiny vacation.  I can’t wait to go again.  Couple that with two incredibly busy and stressful days at work and you get, ‘All work and no play makes Jimmy a dull boy” syndrome.  Hopefully the second half of the week will be a bit better- I hear we’re getting nicer weather and that just gives me more of an excuse to school Chris for the um-teenth time in baseball.

Have a great night and I’ll see you in a week’s time.  Enjoy this Bruce Springsteen cover!