Neil Young, Trail of Dead top CD reviews

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and Neil Young. (Handout/Reuters)

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead and Neil Young. (Handout/Reuters)

Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:06 PM ET

While you get ready for Halloween, enjoy some musical treats from Neil Young, Trail of Dead, a new Pearl Jam side project, a woman named ZZ and more.

Neil Young & Crazy Horse
Psychedelic Pill


Young is in it for the long haul. And they don't come longer than this. The 66-year-old singer-guitarist's 35th album and second Crazy Horse disc this year clocks in at a sprawling 87 minutes -- with the vast majority devoted to nostalgic rumination and shambling marathon jams like the hazy 27-minute opener Driftin' Back and the alcoholic-rocker lament Ramada Inn. Get comfortable.

Download: Twisted Road; Ramada Inn

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead
Lost Songs


A trail goes in two directions. So, after expanding their horizons on last year's proggy high-concept outing Tao of the Dead, these noisy Austin art-punks double back to their post-hardcore base for this eighth studio album. How will you know they're on the right track? By all the gnashing razor-wire guitars, propulsive drumming, full-throated vocals and political angst. Their loss, our gain.

Download: Up to Infinity; Catatonic

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Stone Sour
House of Gold & Bones Pt. 1


The masks are off again. Slipknot singer Corey Taylor and guitarist Jim Root revive their first love Stone Sour -- and up the ante with their fourth release. A two-part concept-album morality play about a man at the crossroads of life, House of Gold melds Taylor's self-analytical lyrics with Root's muscular riffage to forge a grim opus of existentialism and catharsis. Metal with feelings.

Download: Gone Sovereign; RU486

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

RNDM
Acts


This week in supergroups, Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament, artsy singer-guitarist Joseph Arthur and Seattle MVP drummer Richard Stuverud join forces in RNDM. And as you might expect, their debut expands the post-grunge oomph and directness of Ament's day job with Arthur's stylishly textured alt-folk troubadourism, poetic lyrics and drowsy vocals. As side projects go, not too bad.

Download: Modern Times; The Disappearing Ones

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

ZZ Ward
Til the Casket Drops


I know what you're thinking: 'Finally, the ZZ Top / M. Ward pairing we've been waiting for.' Sorry. This is the debut from Zsuzsanna Ward, a bluesy American singer-songwriter in the soul-pop vein of Amy, Adele and all the rest -- and doing it surprisingly well, thanks to earthy vocals and stylish tracks that balance retro and contemporary influences. You'll be hearing a lot from her.

Download: If I Could Be Her; 365 Days

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Gary Clark Jr.
Blak and Blu


You can't please everybody. But Austin singer-guitarist Clark sure does his best on his first major-label album. Veering through a checklist of genres and styles -- fuzzy Black Keys nuggets, Texas blues a la Stevie Ray, Kravitz-style funk-rock, soulful Motown crooning and even hip-hop -- the heavily hyped rising star comes off as a jack of all trades or a master of none, depending.

Download: Travis County; Glitter Ain't Gold

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Jake Bugg
Jake Bugg


Youth isn't always wasted on the young. Take British teenager Bugg. This singer-songwriter isn't out to be a pop idol -- at least not one from this millennium. His hard-strumming folk-rock earns comparison to Dylan, but in truth, his playful energy sounds more like Donovan, while his nasal vocals and scrappy indie-pop nuggets suggest Gene Pitney fronting the La's. The kid's got it.

Download: Lightning Bolt; Taste It

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Titus Andronicus
Local Business

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

"OK, I think, by now, we've established everything is inherently worthless," yelps Patrick Stickles by way of introduction on Titus A's third album. Thankfully, within minutes, these frenetic New Jersey heartland-punks disprove that notion with their densely worded, urgently delivered tales of food fights, eating disorders and trying to grow up without going insane. Buy what he's selling.

Download: Ecce Homo; My Eating Disorder

Paul Banks
Banks


If Banks' name rings a bell, you're probably an Interpol fan. And if you're an Interpol fan, you may be interested in the singer-guitarist's sophomore solo album. But if you're interested in Interpol-based post-punk, you'll be let down; these cuts surround Banks' baritone croon with darkly lustrous clouds of dream-rock melody and spacious reverb. More style than substance, but still OK.

Download: The Base; Over My Shoulder

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Ty Segall
Twins


Maybe that should be Triplets. After all, for retro-rocker Segall, good things come in threes. The prolific San Francisco singer-guitarist's third disc this year makes a fine intro to the varied facets of his musical personality: You get punchy garage-rock firecrackers; noisy psych-rock shredfests; and even a dash of surprisingly sincere folk balladry. Hurry and buy it before he records again.

Download: You're the Doctor; They Told Me Too

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

The Osmonds
I Can't Get There Without You


Yes, those Osmonds -- well, some of them, anyway. These days, Jay, Jimmy and Merrill are running the store. But on their first studio album of new material in nearly 30 years, it's business as usual: Middle-of-the-road pop, rock and soul numbers that are heavy on harmonies and earnest sentiment. Cameos from Donny, Marie, Alan and Wayne make it more of a true family affair.

Download: Break Your Fall; Getcha Goin' My Way

RATING: 2 (out of 5)

The Jim Jones Revue
The Savage Heart


Not all garage-rock is created equal. Exhibit A: The third full-length from these ferocious British throwbacks. Sure, they've got all the hallmarks: The gasoline-gargling vocals, the crash-and-bash beats, the slashing buzzsaw guitars. But they've also got enough ingenuity to incorporate pumping pianos and a more sinister vibe than the usual rip-snorting rabble-rousers. The devil's music.

Download: 7 Times Around the Sun; In and Out of Harm's Way

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

The 69 Eyes
X


That X is not a rating, it's a landmark. This is the Finnish goth-rockers' 10th disc -- and while it may also be their most accessible, it's not necessarily their most inventive. The baritone vampire vocals and darkly romantic lyrics, the riff-heavy arena-rock and soaring anthemic choruses, even the black duds and rats' nest hairdos; it's all Goth 101. Light the black candles and hail Satan.

Download: I Love the Darkness in You; I'm Ready

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Shiny Toy Guns
III


Consider them reloaded. These L.A. synth-rockers -- perhaps still best known for Le Disko, aka The Song From that Commercial Where People Fight With Cellphones in the Subway -- rehire their old vocalist for this third album. Too bad the reunion isn't a return to form; their brash, buzzy energy has given way to wimpy pop, dated new wave and even piano ballads. A total misfire.

Download: Waiting Alone; Speaking Japanese

RATING: 1.5 (out of 5)

Remachined: A Tribute to Deep Purple's Machine Head
Various Artists


Every guitarist can play Smoke on the Water. And that classic is just one of several on Deep Purple's 1972 landmark Machine Head. For its 40th anniversary, a host of rockers -- from Maiden and Metallica to Flaming Lips and even Purple alum Glenn Hughes -- contribute retooled versions of Highway Star, Lazy, Space Truckin' and the rest of the smokin' album. Plug in the air guitar.

Download: Smoke on the Water by Flaming Lips; Space Truckin' by Iron Maiden

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

DVDs

Gary Moore
Blues for Jimi


One guitar god deserves another. So it was that in 2007, British bluesman Gary Moore celebrated Jimi Hendrix by covering a dozen of his classics at a tribute gig in London. But it doesn't stop there -- Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Billy Cox also drop in to help him kiss the sky on jammy versions of Red House, Stone Free and Hey Joe. What more could you want?

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Freddie Mercury
The Great Pretender


Mercury will always be remembered as Queen's flamboyant frontman. But his life didn't begin and end with the band. This 85-minute documentary -- timed to coincide with the publication of a book by the same name -- concentrates on his extracurricular excursions into dance music and opera, and includes interviews with surviving bandmates and plenty of archival footage. Nice.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)
 


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