The Weekend Review: April 2011 Report

Originally posted 2011-12-17 08:03:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

After a much-too-lengthy absence, the Weekend Review returns.  If I hope to catch up on all the months worth of music that I’ve missed, it’s going to have to be more concise.  But I’m determined!  Stop back soon — as the year winds down, there’s sure to be something new here just about every day, whether it be a cover song music video, a music review, or a “best of” list to celebrate the year of new music.

Loverboy
Brett Dennen

Released:
April 12, 2011

Rating:
2.5/5 stars

Top Two Tracks:
“Sydney (I’ll Come Running)” & “Dancing at a Funeral”

This album falls into that enigmatic class of records that defy a clear rating.  Working on the five star system, a three star rating suggests not only an enjoyable experience but also a general mediocrity that is inescapable.  One star records are unlistenable, either for a lack of interesting songwriting and/or performance ability.  A five star album offers beautiful, masterful, thoughtful musical near-perfection.  What Brett Dennen’s Loverboy offers splits the rating system.  The first six tracks are excellent, some of the best songs of the year even – “Sydney (I’ll Come Running),” “Surprise, Surprise,” “Comeback Kid (That’s My Dog).”  These songs are vibrant and upbeat, musically interesting, and catchy sing-a-longs waiting to happen.  However, some of their brilliance threatens to be lost in the sidestep presented by the second half.  Somewhere around track seven, Dennen flips a switch and the ostensible motivation from there on appears to be a trip down memory lane, picking up retro elements and fusing them with the sound he has heretofore established on Loverboy.  “Only Rain” sounds like a take on the Grover Washington, Jr. and Bill Withers sound (“Just the Two of Us,” anyone?).  “Song for Leaving” also adopts a late seventies, early eighties feel.  This is to take nothing away from these songs; they are, in fact, quite good if you’re open to this brand of derivative composition.  The tracks I didn’t mention – “Queen of the Westside” being the exemplar among them – I can’t say the same for.  Some of these latter half tracks are masturbatory at best, like the intro tag to “Queen.”  They simply lack the craftsmanship of the first six songs on this album, not to mention the songs on his previous releases.  Perhaps the most perplexing aspect to note is the material Dennen chose not to include on the album.  The two Amazon MP3 exclusives – “Walk Away, Watch Me Burn” and “Alone Again” – not only should have been included but also should have replaced some of the tracks on the album proper.

 

  Wasting Light
Foo Fighters
Producer:
Butch Vig

Released:
April 12, 2011

Rating:
4.5/5 stars

Top Two Tracks:
“Arlandria” & “Rope”

Hands down, one of the best rock albums by any band in recent memory.  Wasting Light reminded me what a rock album is supposed to be like, and it would not be overstatement to say that the Foo Fighters – surprisingly, given their (in this writer’s opinion) bland album sequencing ability – have encouraged a reconsideration of what I have liked in recent music.  As I’ve stretched out my tastes and sensibilities, I may have forgotten the value and the appeal of a scorching opener like “Bridge Burning,” a riff-centric single like “Rope,” or a raw, guttural track like “White Limo.”  “Arlandria” is classic Foo Fighters at their prime, blending smooth vocals into all-out screams of choruses and torrents of distortion guitar blasts.   The album takes a fade to a degree after the halfway point, but this even the second half is eminently listenable. I haven’t had a good thing to say about a Foo Fighters album since The Colour and the Shape, but Wasting Light breaks that drought.  One of the best of the year, and my favorite rock album since R.E.M.’s Accelerate in 2008.

 

So Beautiful or So What
Paul Simon

Producer:
Phil Ramone & Paul Simon

Released:
April 11, 2011

Rating:
1.5/5 stars

Top Two Tracks:
“Rewrite” & “So Beautiful or So What”

Paul Simon has, without question after the critical reception of this album, received some sort of honorary status as an untouchable.  That So Beautiful or So What has earned such high praise is an otherwise indecipherable phenomenon to me.  If reverb hadn’t been invented previously, then I might understand the fuss.  Sure, the vocals are smooth, even beautiful in places,  but the lyrics are juvenile and the songwriting is structurally loose, depending on certain sounds and feels to guide the track rather than true progressions and thoughtful crafting of movements.  Turns out I find much of it beautiful, but I’m strongly in the “so what?” camp.  Take note, though: it’ll make for pleasant background music at your next gathering of fifty- to sixty-somethings.

 

  Nine Types of Light
TV on the Radio

Released:
April 11, 2011

Rating:
3.5/5 stars

Top Two Tracks:
“New Cannonball Blues” & “No Future Shock”

In the manner its sounds and sequencing flow along the same lines as its synthetic medium, Nine Types of Light is a success.  When it does find a catchy line or beat, however, TV on the Radio seem to rely too heavily on it, often failing to develop much beyond what is established early.  This criticism, however, should not undercut the standouts, like the cool “No Future Shock” and the fuzzy, dance trip of “New Cannonball Blues.”

 

This is one in a series of acoustic cover songs, original music, and free mp3 downloads here on the Laptop Sessions Music Video Blog.

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