Brown, Jackson top CD reviews

Chris Brown (left) and Joe Jackson (AFP, WENN.COM)

Chris Brown (left) and Joe Jackson (AFP, WENN.COM)

Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:42 PM ET

On this week's playlist: Breezy meets expectations, Tankian rocks your world, Joe redefines Duke, Everclear see stars, Little Feat crow and Asia dish up XXX.

Chris Brown

Fortune

R&B

2.5 stars out of 5

"Please don't judge me," begs Brown. Too late. Everyone's made up his or her mind about the polarizing performer — and this fifth disc. Team Breezy will rally around the slick sonics, massive club beats and sharp hooks. Haters will decry his mediocre crooning, unrepentant arrogance and virtual army of supporting songwriters and producers.

Everybody wins. Especially Chris Brown.

Download: Turn Up the Music; Bassline

Serj Tankian

Harakiri

Alt-Rock

4 stars out of 5

Society is collapsing; might as well rock. System of a Down frontman Tankian pulls no lyrical or musical punches on his third solo outing, sounding the alarm about environmental holocaust, economic chaos and even reality TV — all to a soundtrack that fuses his usual Zappaesque eclecticism with some of his most pointed and hardest-hitting work in years. Thinking man's metal.

Download: Figure it Out; Uneducated Democracy

Joe Jackson

The Duke

Jazz-Rock

3 stars out of 5

Steppin' out and steppin' back. After returning to pop for much of the ’00s, Jackson jazzes it up again (sort of) on an unorthodox Ellington tribute. Joined by VIPs from Steve Vai and Iggy to The Roots and Sharon Jones, the restless tunesmith reinvents 15 gems with more revolution than reverence, drawing on rock, pop, hip-hop, reggae and more. Self-indulgent, but it has its moments.

Download: Mood Indigo; It Don't Mean a Thing (If it Ain't Got That Swing)

Everclear

Invisible Stars

Alt-Rock

3 stars out of 5

"All I wanna do is start over again," claims Art Alexakis on his first disc of new Everclear songs in six years. To that end, the singer- guitarist tweaks his revolving-door lineup once again — his ex- bandmates now number over a dozen — to crank out another set of crunchy pop-punk nuggets and hooky modern-rock singles. Surprisingly, it's pretty good. Too bad it's a few years too late.

Download: Be Careful What You Ask For; Aces

Little Feat

Rooster Rag

Jam-Rock

3.5 stars out of 5

Little Feat have filled some pretty big shoes. Then again, they're used to it. Three decades after Lowell George and two years after the death of monster drummer Richie Hayward, the jammers are back with their first new material since 2003. And pick up right where they left off with slow-burning funk and southern-fried roots featuring lyrics from Robert Hunter. Feats won't fail you now.

Download: Candy Man Blues; Rag Top Down

Asia

XXX

Prog-Rock

2.5 stars out of 5

Don't Google this one at home, folks. And don't download it unless you're nostalgic for the ’80s. This 30th-anniversary release from the supergroup's reunited original lineup — keyboardist Geoff Downes, singer-bassist John Wetton, guitarist Steve Howe and drummer Carl Palmer — resurrects the satin-suited, feather-mulleted heyday of synth- rich arena-prog. It's a repeat of the moment.

Download: No Religion; Face on the Bridge

************************************

Cornershop

Urban Turban: The Singhles Club

Britpop

3 stars out of 5

Cornershop have gone co-op. Singer-guitarist Tjinder Singh and co.

employed a Punjabi vocalist last time; on this seventh disc — expanded from a recent online singles series — they go even further by recruiting a roster of part-timers (mostly female guest vocalists and

schoolkids) to help peddle their Indian-spiced, sweetly hallucinogenic Britpop. Thank you and please come again.

Download: Beacon Radio 303; Milkin' It

A Place to Bury Strangers

Worship

Noise-Rock

3.5 stars out of 5

This band goes to 11. Aggressively gloomy (and insanely loud) NYC noisemakers APTBS continue their audio assault on their third record, spiking their hard-chugging post-punk and baritone misery with dentist- drill scrapes, sheets of feedback and explosive reverb. Dig beneath the rubble, however, and you'll find durable pop melodies, ambitious arrangements and emotional depth.

Download: You Are the One; And I'm Up

Mission of Burma

Unsound

Post-Punk

4 stars out of 5

As a rule, reunions suck. MoB are the exception that proves it. These ’80s survivors continue to enjoy one of the most satisfying second acts in indie-rock. After all these years, they haven't compromised or settled down — they still bash out intense, ramshackle post-punk buzzing with noisy guitars, grinding basses, tape manipulations and raucous bellowing. Mission accomplished.

Download: Fell-->H20; 7's

Ty Segall

Slaughterhouse

Garage-Rock

4 stars out of 5

There will be blood. The prolific San Francisco singer-guitarist goes in for the kill on his umpteenth album, turbocharging his punky, propulsive garage-rock nuggets with a hefty dose of classic Detroit rock a la The MC5 and Stooges — particularly the latter's claustrophobic 1970 opus Fun House — and dashes of The Beatles, Beefheart and Bo Diddley. Lock the door and play it loud.

Download: Death; That's the Bag I'm In

Beachwood Sparks

The Tarnished Gold

Alt-Country

3.5 stars out of 5

Some bands are ahead of their time. Others behind. Beachwood Sparks managed to be both. Their retro brand of cosmic country-rock — think Burritos meets Elephant 6 — didn't take a decade ago. Now that folks like Fleet Foxes have turned on a new generation, the Sparks are back with more mellow melodies straight from Laurel Canyon. Here's hoping the second time's the charm.

Download: Sparks Fly Again; Talk About Lonesome

Dirty Projectors

Swing Lo Magellan

Indie-Rock

4 stars out of 5

The Projectors have found the focus. Eccentric singer-guitarist David Longstreth — whose previous works include a rock opera about Don Henley and a reimagined Black Flag tribute — reins in his idiosyncrasies ever so slightly on this sixth disc, peppering his needlepoint Afrobeat guitar, swooping vocals and shapeshifting art- rock with stronger melodies and tighter structures. Sweet.

Download: Offspring are Blank; Gun Has No Trigger

Gojira

L'Enfant Sauvage

Metal

4 stars out of 5

Some kind of monster. Respected French metal outfit Gojira continue to evolve and become more powerful and destructive on their fifth-full length. While their technical skills remain peerless — many of these songs hammer their way forward with relentless industrial precision — they also balance their fire-breathing ferocity with greater dynamic range and emotional depth. Unstoppable.

Download: L'Enfant Sauvage; Planned Obsolescence

************************************

DOWN/STREAM

Azealia Banks

Nathan

It's been just weeks since the provocative rap upstart released her 1991 EP. But 21-year-old Banks is already back in business with this stunner produced by Drums of Death. As synths drip and the beat bounces behind her, Banks spits her trademark tonguetwisting syncopation, interrupted by a similarly skewed verse from the inimitable Styles P. Another winner from rap's It Girl.

azealiabanks.tumblr.com

Antibalas

Dirty Money

The Afrobeat goes on. New York crew Antibalas release their self- titled fifth album later this summer. But here's a taste that's sure to whet your appetite. The first single has everything you want and need: A hypnotic serpentine beat, aggressively stabbing horn lines, slinky guitar chords and a simple hook that all intertwine in a seamless, irresistible groove. In short: Right on the money.

www.antibalas.com

The Darkness

Everybody Have a Good Time "Take off your thinking cap and listen to your heart," implores Justin Hawkins on this third preview of his reunited glam-rock outfit's

upcoming comeback album Hot Cakes. Fortunately, between the cowbell- plonk beat and the soaring chorus of this typically anachronistic slice of ’70s arena-rock, his wish is pretty easily granted. Plus, the accompanying video has a sexy stripper bear.

www.theactualdarkness.com

************************************

BOX SETS

The English Beat

The Complete Beat

Ska

4 stars out of 5

Jackpot. Nearly 30 years after their premature breakup, the British ska kingpins finally get the box-set treatment. The five-disc set includes remasters of their three early ’80s LPs — the frenetic debut I Just Can't Stop It and the more adventurous Wha'ppen and Special Beat Service — next to bonus cuts and two CDs of vintage live fare, remixes and dub versions. Ranking: Full blast.

Download: Tears of a Clown; I'm Your Flag

Can

Lost Tapes

Krautrock

4.5 stars out of 5

Most bands' leftovers arrive stale. Can, to use an understatement, weren't like most bands. Or any band. So it only seems right that the influential Krautrock pioneers' three-disc box isn't some random hodge- podge of odds ’n’ sods — it's a collection of high-quality studio, live and soundtracks outtakes displaying all the freshness and boundless originality of their ’70s classics. Open it.

Download: Are You Waiting for the Streetcar; Dead Pigeon Suite

************************************

GARAGE BAND

Sleepless

Toronto, Ont.

sleepless.bandcamp.com

Musical styles come and go. And one that can't go fast enough to suit me is post-hardcore. If you've heard one miserable dude screaming his lungs out over a midtempo surge of serrated guitars, you've heard them all. Having said that, these Torontonians pull it off about as well as a million other bands, with all the usual guitar arpeggios, slow- burning tempos, tension-and-release dynamics and tortured wailing. Of course, that and a couple of bucks will get you a double-double at Tim Hortons. The latter is more likely to keep you awake.

VERDICT: "Zzzzzzzz."

2 stars

************************************

UPCOMING

 

July 17

Rebirth

Jimmy Cliff

Beautiful Friction

The Fixx

Band of Brothers

Hellyeah

Someday

Susanna Hoffs

Hypnotic Nights

Jeff the Brotherhood

Spark Seeker

Matisyahu

Life is Good

Nas

Delayed Reaction

Soul Asylum

 

July 24

Handwritten

Gaslight Anthem

Copper Blue | Beaster | File Under: Easy Listening Deluxe Editions

Sugar

 


Videos

Photos