Sparkle, J.Lo top CD reviews

Whitney Houston in the movie Sparkle, and Jennifer Lopez (Handout, WENN.COM)

Whitney Houston in the movie Sparkle, and Jennifer Lopez (Handout, WENN.COM)

Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

Almost no one introduces new products in August — including rockers. But fear not; there are plenty of compilations and soundtracks making noise this week. Here’s a rundown:

Sparkle: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Various Artists Soul

3.5 stars out of 5

Come for Whitney Houston’s two final recordings — both of which are slightly underwhelming. Stay for a superior slate of R. Kelly-helmed retro-soul and R&B sung by Jordin Sparks and Cee-Lo.

Download: I’m a Man

Jennifer Lopez

Dance Again… The Hits

Dance-Pop

3.5 stars out of 5

J.Lo’s post-Idol cash-in continues with this compendium of her biggest singles, augmented by two new cuts: The Pitbull-guesting title cut and Goin’ In (with Flo Rida). There’s also a DVD.

Download: Dance Again

The Beatles

Tomorrow Never Knows

Classic Rock

3 stars out of 5

Backbeat: Original Cast Recording

Various Artists

Classic Rock

2 stars out of 5

The former is a pointless cash-grab collection of Beatle rockers like Revolution and Helter Skelter; the latter is a bunch of pre-Feb covers played by no-name soundalikes. Nothing you need.

Download: Savoy Truffle; Bad Boy

Slipknot

Antennas to Hell

4 stars out of 5

And then there were eight. Metal’s masked marauders honour fallen bassist Paul Gray and close a chapter with this compilation, which includes a 2009 live CD and a DVD in some editions.

Download: Before I Forget

Kylie Minogue

The Best Of

Dance-Pop

3 stars out of 5

Again? Perennially perky pop pixie Minogue celebrates her 25th year in music by milking fans with yet another anthology of dance ditties and siren songs. The deluxe edition includes videos.

Download: Can’t Get You Out of My Head

Pet Shop Boys

Format: B-Sides & Bonus Tracks 1996-2009 Synth-Pop

4.5 stars out of 5

This is how it’s done: The beloved British synth-pop duo resurrect 38 rarities, demos, alternate mixes and more, so you can complete your collection. Includes track-by-track liner notes. Superb.

Download: How I Learned to Hate Rock and Roll

Marcy Playground

Lunch, Recess & Detention

Alt-Rock

3.5 stars out of 5

It sounds like the Least Essential Compilation Ever: A collection of outtakes and leftovers from some one-hit wonders. Turns out to be a surprisingly solid set of alt-rock odds ’n’ ends. Go figure.

Download: Shapeshifter

The Locust

Molecular Genetics From the Gold Standard Labs Grindcore HHHH Mutants assemble! The costumed San Diego audio terrorists raid their archives for a 44-cut, 36-minute onslaught of ADD ferocity, spasmodic mayhem and primo screamo. Duck and cover.

Download: The Half Eaten Sausage Would Like to See You in His Office

Ian Gillan & Tony Iommi

WhoCares

Metal

3.5 stars out of 5

Doing it for the kids: Deep Purple’s frontman and Black Sabbath’s guitar slinger dish up rarities from their bands — along with a pair of new originals — to rebuild an Armenian music school.

Download: Out of My Mind; Holy Water

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Christian Scott

Christian aTunde Adjuah

Jazz

4 stars out of 5

Treme fans may recognize Scott; the maverick New Orleans trumpeter has not only played on the show, but also helped inspire the Delmond Lambreaux character. His approach here may also feel a bit familiar — like his fictional alter-ego, young lion Scott looks forward and back on this landmark double set, stretching the boundaries of jazz while referencing his heritage. Outstanding.

Download: Jihad Joe; Danziger

Ryan Adams

Live After Deaf

Alt-Country

4 stars out of 5

Can’t get your fill of Adams? Well, belly up to the buffet. His mammoth box set Live After Deaf collects the alt-country tunesmith’s first 15 solo acoustic performances after recovering from ear problems in 2011 (hence the title). The full-meal deal contains 218 songs and lasts 16 hours, but those with smaller appetites can purchase these intimate shows a la carte online. Bon appetit.

Download: Live in London 1; Cophenhagen

Rick Ross

God Forgives, I Don’t

Rap

4 stars out of 5

Mysterious seizures, multiple beefs, a jail-guard past exposed; rapper Ross’s reality is eventful enough to fill several albums. But not this one. Instead, the unrepentantly self-indulgent Rozay goes for broke, cranking up his audacious drug-kingpin fantasies to hilarious extremes — and fashioning an overblown widescreen soundtrack to match. Proof that nothing succeeds like excess.

Download: 3 Kings feat. Dr. Dre & Jay-Z; Sixteen feat. Andre 3000

Joshua Radin

Underwater

Folk-Pop

3 stars out of 5

Don’t believe everything you read. The title of Radin’s fourth album could easily be Up in the Air. Armed with his acoustic guitar and whispery voice — and accompanied by VIP session cats and plenty of strings — the Ohio folk-pop singer-songwriter gently drifts through a breezy world of soothing ballads and … more soothing ballads. Dude needs to get his feet back on the ground.

Download: The Greenest Grass; Any Day Now

Susanna Hoffs

Someday

Pop

3 stars out of 5

A different light? Not quite. But perhaps a slightly different spectrum. Singer-guitarist Hoffs goes it alone again with her first solo album in 16 years. No surprise, these 10 retro tracks mine the same jangly, lightly bouncing ’60s pop vein that has long been her stock in trade. But thanks to plenty of chirpy horns and strings, it’s a little more Bacharach than Bangles. Sunny and sweet.

Download: November Sun; Picture

Antony & The Johnsons

Cut the World

Orch-Pop

4 stars out of 5

Some singers were born to rock. Antony Hegarty was born to croon heartbreaking ballads with a symphony. Which is just what he does here. Recorded in Copenhagen in 2011, this live set pairs the androgynous vocalist with a chamber orchestra that sets his romantic yearning to majestic, sweeping arrangements. You get 10 old numbers and one new tune — but no DVD. What gives?

Download: Cut the World; Future Feminism

Conor Maynard

Contrast

2.5 stars out of 5

He’s a non-threatening pretty boy. He has decent pipes and good hair. He was discovered by an R&B star after posting videos on YouTube. And on his debut album, he hires heavy hitters like Pharrell, Stargate, Ne-Yo and Benny Blanco to supply songs that are slickly produced and irresistibly hooky — but ultimately generic. Is it any wonder they call Maynard the Brighton Bieber?

Download: Vegas Girl; Can’t Say No

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DVDs

Ozzy Osbourne

Speak of the Devil: Live From Irvine Meadows ’82 Classic Rock

2.5 stars out of 5

Live or Lie? This 78-minute Ozzy gig — shot on his famous 1982 castle set, with guitarist Brad Gillis replacing the recently deceased Randy Rhoads — fits either description. Sure, the band kicks, though Oz looks understandably haunted. The problem: His blatantly redubbed vocals turn the whole affair into a Godzilla movie. And no bonus footage? Let us never speak of this again.

Peter Gabriel

Secret World Live

Art-Rock

4.5 stars out of 5

Sometimes the Grammys nail it. Thanks to cutting-edge production, theatrical presentation and eye-catching cinematography — not to mention superb performances from all involved — it’s no wonder this concert film won the 1996 long-form video award. Here, the 100-minute work gets the deluxe treatment: Digital restoration and remixing, bonus footage and a making-of doc. Brilliant.

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GARAGE BAND

Random Allies

Toronto, Ont.

http://www.showcaseyourmusic.com/randomallies

Cheeseball guitar riffs. Harebrained lyrics. Tight-trousered vocals. Sub-teenage songcraft. Production straight from the lowest depths of the ’80s. Even in this space, it’s rare to encounter a perfect storm of ineptitude like that displayed by these two apparently full-grown Torontonians. In fact, it’s so awful I suspect it’s all a superb Spinal Tapish parody of bad basement-rock. And if these guys have any sense, that’s exactly what they tell people.

VERDICT: “Horrifyingly magnificent.”

3 stars out of 5

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UPCOMING

 

Aug. 14

Mighty Death Pop!

Insane Clown Posse

Rock ’N’ Roll Revival

Loverboy

Cabin Fever

Corb Lund

Turn on the Lights

Daniel Powter

Ignition

Shoes

Aug. 21

Four

Bloc Party

Hot Cakes

The Darkness

Destroyer: Resurrected

KISS

Kiko: 20th Anniversary Edition

Los Lobos

Midsummer Station

Owl City

 

 


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