Section By Jeb D.
ORDER OF THE BLACK
Black Label Society
Now that his former boss’ album has come and gone without disturbing anyone’s rest, it’s time for Zakk Wylde to weigh in. The riffs are appropriately large and crunching, the songs carry the expected quotient of dirge and doom (“Parade of the Dead,” “Black Sunday”). Modern metal has become a formalist’s game, like gymnastics or ice dancing: as long as the requisite moves are performed, and you stick the landing, you’re pretty much there.
COME AND GET IT
Eli “Paperboy” Reed
Retro-soul man makes his major label move. It’s an agreeable mix of Stax and Motown, lighter in touch than Saddiq or Jones, but with less personality. Reed’s generally the sensitive stud, ready to teach or be taught (“Help Me”), and he’s willing to forgive that poor misguided girl who just didn’t see his better qualities the first time around (“Name Calling,” “Time Will Tell”). The arrangements tend to the generic (the backing vocals, in particular, lack the creative counterpoint of their best Motown predecessors); for sheer instrumental ingenuity, the band takes a backseat to the Dap-Kings. But he’s got the pipes, and he’s equally comfortable crooning (“Tell Me What I Wanna Hear”) or stomping (“You Can Run On”). The James Brown move on “Explosion” is a mistake, but I suspect he half-knew that when he stuck it at the end of the album.
SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD
(ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK)
Since I’ve always admired Beck’s taste and intelligence even more than I actually enjoyed his music, I’m not surprised that he’d have the analytical chops to (re?)produce the generic pop-punk of Sex Bob-omb. Similarly, Broken Social Scene brings exuberance to their impersonation of Crash and the Boys, and Metric stands in nicely for The Clash at Demonhead. I don’t know that the music would particularly stand out if you just heard it coming over the radio, but if Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World is half as good as its buzz, my guess is that these will serve as great aural souvenirs. There’s also a Stones track you probably don’t need, one by T. Rex you might not know, and a few tasty odds and ends from Frank Black, The Black Lips, and some others. Unfortunately, if you want to hear the midi version of the Universal theme that starts the movie, you’ll need to pick up Nigel Goodrich’s album of the movie’s instrumental score (which also includes two songs by Dan The Automater and a “fast version” of Beck’s “We Are Sex Bob-Omb”). Maybe not “epic,” but a long way from “fail.”
SOMETHING EXTRA SPECIAL:
THE COMPLETE VOLT RECORDINGS 1968-1971
There’s literally dozens of great soul artists who got lost in the amazing shuffle of music that Motown and the various Atlantic subsidiaries and indie labels produced in the 60’s; just wasn’t room for everyone. And, to be fair, it’s kind of hard to say that Hughes deserved the same level of attention that Otis and Wilson and Percy did; but at this remove, I’d certainly say he deserved his moment in the sun every bit much as, say, Johnny Taylor or Tyrone Davis. Grab this generous disk with lots of previously-unreleased tracks, surrender to “I Like Everything About You” and “I’m Not Ashamed To Beg And Plead,” with backing from folks like Steve Cropper, Al Jackson, and Duane Allman among others, then go looking for the previous collection of his sides for Kent and the amazing “It Ain’t What You Got” and “I’m Qualified.”
Other Noteworthy 8/10 Releases
Mike Posner, 31 Minutes to Takeoff. I presume that the purpose of “Cooler Than Me” was to become so annoyingly catchy that you’d never want to hear the guy again. Worked for me.
Brother Clyde, Brother Clyde. You have got to be fucking kidding me. Refugees from Hole, Motley Crue, and The Crystal Method(!) hook up with Hannah Montana’s dad, who claims to be “a rock and roll hellion.” To be honest, I didn’t even look for the entire album: the half-baked Linkin Park of the single, “Lately,” was enough achy-breaky pain for one day.
Laurence Juber, LJ Plays The Beatles Vol. 2. Lennon-McCartney as sleep aid. Having been in Wings for a couple months might (I say might) get you the slack to do this once. But not twice.
Various Artists, Many Hands: Family Music for Haiti. Do good intentions transcend inconsistent musical quality? It’s your thirteen bucks. If nothing else, it’s got me wanting to sample more from Caspar Babypants, Agent 23 Skidoo, and Bonga & The Voudu Drums of Haiti.
Lost in the Trees, All Alone in An Empty House. If you have ever thought that you wanted to hear an album that sounded like the title of this one… then this is definitely the album for you.
The Who, Live at the Isle of Wight 1970. Only the second live Who album of 2010; speed it up there, fellas. For what it’s worth, I’d go with the expanded Live At Leeds, but if you don’t have a live album yet from the Moon era, this’ll do just fine.