Review: Rockin’ into the weekend!
Goin’ into the weekend with some new albums to play on the patio …
Stone Temple Pilots reformed earlier this year to perform at SXSW, so a few months later their new, eponymous album is on the shelves, and it’s a good one. This band sounds better than ever, particularly on those mid-tempo rockers they do so well. “Take A Load Off” and “Dare If You Dare” fit into this mold, but there’s always a gut-crunching riff around the corner: “Hazy Daze” is almost stoner rock, while “Bagman” slyly evokes the old “Batman” TV show theme song. And opener “Between The Lines” could be Pearl Jam, if you squint your ears (don’t ask). Stone Temple Pilots! It ain’t the ’90s, but I like it!
MP3: “Between The Lines” by Stone Temple Pilots
It ain’t so easy with Love Is Strange, a live 2-CD collection from Jackson Browne and his longtime sideman David Lindley. On one listen, I like the mostly acoustic settings, the introductions done in Spanish (this was recorded during a tour of Spain) and the obtuse humor of Lindley. On another listen, I’m put off by the overly reverent treatment of a few of the songs, and the overly bloated feel of the album (do we really need an acoustic-fiddle version of “Take It Easy”?). To his credit, Browne shares the stage also with some talented Spanish artists like Luz Casal, who takes over lead vocals on Browne’s classic “These Days” and Kiko Veneno, who puts his stamp on what Browne introduces as “a very famous Eagles song.” In the end, I’m drawn to the spare, affecting versions of “For Everyman” and “Running On Empty,” both powered by Lindley’s incredible guitar work. Browne/Lindsey kick into their cover of the Mickey & Sylvia classic “Love Is Strange” and I shouldn’t have been surprised how it ended. I shouldn’t have enjoyed this album, but I did – immensely.
MP3: “Tu Tranquilo” by Jackson Browne & David Lindley with Kiko Veneno
Band of Horses is tryin’ to be like Wilco (I guess) and they only halfway succeed on their new Infinite Arms. “Laredo” has a nice Americana kick that can get yer Friday evening off to a good start, but the band steers too close to Jayhawks territory (“Factory”), Fleet Foxes’ stark rustic country (“Evening Kitchen”) or even Brian Wilson’s sandbox (“Blue Beard”) to be considered completely original. I saw another review of this album that described it as “twang-by-numbers” and although I hate to borrow without attribution (found it – from Pitchfork) I must agree, although I should add that this album has its moments. More good ones than bad, I would say.
The Black Keys have pretty much escaped my attention until Brothers, their newest, and it leaves a nice aftertaste with “Sinister Kid” and the Danger Mouse-produced “Tighten Up.” The first few licks of “Ten Cent Pistol” promise a soulful journey and they deliver – and even the less-than-original riff (Gary Glitter?) that kicks off “Howlin’ For You” doesn’t take away from the fun. This album overcomes its handful of weak moments with great, inventive songwriting and fascinating arrangements. A good one for the barbecue!
MP3: “Tighten Up” by the Black Keys
And I would be remiss not to mention On Approach by Everest, the band we caught live for an acoustic in-store last weekend. “Let Go” sounds like a summer hit (if summer hits, and radio that can turn songs into summer hits, still existed), while the band goes from earnestly strummed soul stirrers (“East Illinois,” “Tall Buildings”) to howlin’ guitar stompers (“House of 9’s”). This is another nicely rockin’ album to take you into the weekend, and well into the summer.
Video: “Let Go” by Everest (live at Cactus Music, Houston)
(Thanks to CarlosRamirezTX for this clip,which we found on YouTube.)