Darkness, Alanis top CD reviews

Justin Hawkins and Alanis Morissette (Reuters, WENN.COM)

Justin Hawkins and Alanis Morissette (Reuters, WENN.COM)

Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:51 AM ET

Summer’s almost over but the music never ends. This week: The Darkness glam it up, Alanis remains ironic, 2 Chainz tells his story, Divine Fits fit their name and more.

The Darkness

Hot Cakes

Glam-Rock

2.5 stars out of 5

Do you believe in a thing called redemption? Justin Hawkins and co. hope so. Reunited and reformed, these British glam-rock satirists seek to recapture their mojo with their long-overdue third disc. And for the most part, they succeed — provided you like your ’70s arena-rock with plenty of recycled Angus riffs, faux-Freddie falsettos and teenage double-entendres. Let there be shlock!

Download: Everybody Have a Good Time; Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Alanis Morissette

Havoc & Bright Lights

Mom-Rock

2.5 stars out of 5

Ironic: With her eighth album, the poster girl for scorned-woman angst has fully morphed into the voice of middle-aged irrelevance. Once again utilizing Guy Sigsworth’s fusion of dreamy trance ’n’ dance with crunchy pop-rock, Morissette proffers her usual navel-gazing about motherhood, marriage, fame and feminism. Equal parts Madonna and McLachlan. But nothing you oughta hear.

Download: Woman Down; Numb

2 Chainz

Based on a T.R.U. Story

Rap

3.5 stars out of 5

Personality goes a long way. And Atlanta rapper Tauheed Epps — fka Tity Boi of Playaz Circle — has charisma to spare. The overnight sensation’s salacious booty odes, outrageous drug tales and audacious rhymes (“Take the camel toe and turn it into casserole”) drive this inconsistent mishmash of club cuts, R&B ballads and VIP cameos. Pity all the jams aren’t equally colourful.

Download: Money Machine; Crack

Divine Fits

A Thing Called Divine Fits

Pop-Rock

4 stars out of 5

Let’s get it out of the way: Yes, Divine Fits are a supergroup built around Spoon man Britt Daniel and Wolf Parader / Handsome Furrier Dan Boeckner. But the truly superlative part of this debut is how the former’s impeccable craftsmanship and the latter’s loose-limbed aesthetic complement and complete each other on these irresistible nuggets of indie-rock and synth-pop. A perfect fit.

Download: Like Ice Cream; What Gets You Alone

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Last of a Dyin’ Breed

Southern Rock

2 stars out of 5

“What the hell have we done?” asks Johnny Van Zant. He’s talking about America; he should look in the mirror. Now down to one original member — guitarist Gary Rossington — the self-tribute band’s latest travesty finds them selling out their three-guitar redneck rock with hick-hop, Southern metal and funk. Granted, it’s not as offensive as 2009’s God & Guns. Still, enough is enough.

Download: Last of a Dyin’ Breed; Homegrown

Steve Vai

The Story of Light

Prog-Rock

3 stars out of 5

A short story it is not. Guitar wizard Vai claims this is the second part of a trilogy that began with his last studio disc, 2005’s Real Illusions: Reflections. In this chapter, the axe-slinger unspools another hour of his trademark string-bending virtuosity over a varied lineup of instrumental backdrops that run the gamut from proggy complexity to neo-blues and gospel. Not quite a cliffhanger.

Download: Velorum; John the Revelator

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

Sugar

Copper Blue & Beaster | File Under: Easy Listening (Deluxe Editions) Alt-Rock

Both: 4 stars out of 5

Sweet. Hüsker Dü singer-guitarist Bob Mould’s more accessible ’90s power trio have finally given their catalog the deluxe treatment. Both their soaring and searing full-length releases — 1992’s Copper Blue (which comes bundled with ’93’s darker leftovers EP Beaster) and 1994’s FU:EL — are augmented by a batch of B-sides and a bonus live disc. One quibble: Why not a box set?

Download: Dum Dum Boys (Live); Mind is an Island

Chilly Gonzales

Solo Piano II

Classical

3.5 stars out of 5

Gonzales is playing it straight again. Eight years after his acclaimed 2004 disc Solo Piano, colourful ex-pat pianist (and frequent Peaches / Feist collaborator) Jason Beck finally returns to his roots, tastefully presenting 17 short and mainly sweet neo-classical pieces laced with elegant melody and understated beauty. Hope we don’t have to wait another eight years for the threequel.

Download: Minor Fantasy; Evolving Blinds

The Flatlanders

The Odessa Tapes

Country

3.5 stars out of 5

The legend continues. This latest archival release from long-overlooked Texas troubadours Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely and Butch Hancock consists of songs cut at a studio in 1972, shortly before they made their debut album. Not surprisingly, it’s mostly familiar turf, from Gilmore’s nasal warble and the trio’s laid-back harmonies to the set list and singing saw. Not bad for a dry run.

Download: Dallas; One Road More

Dead Can Dance

Anastasis

World Music

4 stars out of 5

Some things take time. It took Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry 16 years to get around to this album. Naturally, they’re hardly in a rush. These eight epic tracks — average length: seven minutes — are journeys in themselves, languidly traversing a multiverse where grand orchestrations and exotic textures swirl around his Morrisonian baritone and her wordless majesty. Worth the wait.

Download: Children of the Sun; Opium

Branford Marsalis Quartet

Four MFs Playin’ Tunes

Jazz

4 stars out of 5

They aren’t just any four MFs. Along with Marsalis on tenor and soprano saxes, you’ve got longtime pianist Joey Calderazzo and bassist Eric Revis, plus wunderkind drummer Justin Faulkner. And they’re not just any tunes: This is a strong collection of new post-bop, peppered with standards, New Orleans fare and a Monk classic — all handled masterfully yet approachably. Find it.

Download: The Mighty Sword; Teo

The Heavy

The Glorious Dead

Soul-Rock

3 stars out of 5

How you like them now? Three years after their James Brown knockoff vaulted them out of obscurity, these Bath soul-rockers try to stave off one hit-wonderdom with their third album. But even though the platter ticks the right retro boxes — funky-drummer beats, fuzzed-out licks, echoes of vintage soul and R&B — it’s ultimately a slow-burner that never catches fire. No guts, no glory.

Download: Can’t Play Dead; Don’t Say Nothing

Los Straitjackets

Jet Set

Surf-Rock

2.5 stars out of 5

Mexican wrestling masks. Twangy Ventures guitars. Instrumentals that hit the sweet spot midway between the garage and the surf. Yep, it’s a Straitjackets disc. And if you’ve never had the pleasure, now’s as good a time as any to crank the hi-fi and do the Frug. But if you’re hoping these Nashville throwbacks have a few new moves, you might want to double-check their name.

Download: Yeah Yeah Yeah; Jet Set

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

DOWN/STREAM

Wilco

Roadcase 001 - 006

Once upon a time, fans followed their favourite bands on the road. Now they just follow them online. Chicago post-rootsers Wilco — who have been streaming shows on their site for years — get in the instant-bootleg game with six recordings from their latest tour. Each tops two hours, boasts remastered sound and different set lists, and sells for between $9 and $12. You can’t go wrong.

wilcoworld.net

Domo Genesis & The Alchemist

No Idols

Domo is a member of L.A. rap troublemakers Odd Future. Alchemist is a Beverly Hills producer who moonlights as Eminem’s DJ. The latter supplies minimalist beats, late-night basslines and creative colourings. The former tops them with nimble verbal contortions delivered with laid-back confidence. Their half-hour mixtape collaboration leaves you wanting more. No idle hands here.

limelinx.com

Pussy Riot

Putin Lights Up the Fires

You can’t stop the rock. Even as they were being jailed on a ridiculous charge of hooliganism, the members of this Russian punk-rock collective dropped this noisy new nugget of dissent on the Interwebs. What are they saying? Doesn’t matter; what counts is that they should be free to say it. Because it’s apparently important enough to make a dictator fear three women with guitars.

hypem.com

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

DVDs

Graham Parker & The Rumour

Live at Rockpalast 1978 + 1980

Soul-Rock

4 stars out of 5

About time. Angry young lad Parker and his crack band have long been some of rock’s greatest unsung heroes. Now you can see why. These two fiery gigs — one in a dim studio, the other at a festival — spotlight them at their peak as they fuse soul, punk and rock into a potent sound midway between Elvis C. and Van the Man. The technical quality is dodgy, but the content is superb.

Triumph

Live at Sweden Rock Festival

Classic Rock

3 stars out of 5

Nope, it’s not another vintage gig from the Triumph archives. This show just happened in 2008, when Canada’s other beloved power trio reunited for one night (and presumably one large payday) at a Swedish fest. Not surprisingly, they seem rusty at times — but the 72-minute gig still delivers enough magic power to make it a treat for old fans. Now, can we have a reunion tour, please?

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

GARAGE BAND

Everyday Feels Like Sunday

Winnipeg, Man.

www.reverbnation.com/everydayfeelslikesunday

This Peg City outfit’s name suggests a Morrissey tribute band — or perhaps an indie collective inspired by Of Montreal. Their thrift-shop garb and frowning pictures, however, look punk. So their music, naturally, aims to recreate the Sunset Strip sleaze and boogie-metal of Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses. Sigh. Only in Winnipeg. Even if the latter weren’t just a string of sub-standard, poorly executed bar-band cliches, bottom line is it all makes no sense whatsoever. It’s called context, guys. Look it up.

VERDICT: “Motley fools.”

 1 star

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

UPCOMING

Sept. 4

Animal Collective

Centipede Hz

Cat Power

Sun

Deerhoof

Breakup Song

Melissa Etheridge

4th Street Feeling

Ian Hunter

When I’m President

Matchbox Twenty

North

Matt Mays

Coyote

Bob Mould

Silver Age

Sheepdogs

Sheepdogs

Smash Mouth

Magic

Stars

The North

Dave Stewart

Ringmaster General

 

 


Videos

Photos