Mumford & Sons top CD reviews

Mumford & Sons

Mumford & Sons

Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:40 PM ET

HEAR IT

Mumford & Sons
Road to Red Rocks: Deluxe Edition


It’s hard not to like Mumford & Sons. Even if you don’t like their music. At a time when pop has never been more puerile, prefabricated and predictable, the British folk-rockers are throwbacks to the days when real musicians played instruments, wrote songs and — believe it or not — sang live. Their increasingly outdated approach is lovingly documented on the Grammy-noiminated crew’s live DVD/Blu-Ray The Road to Red Rocks. It follows the band’s recent Gentlemen of the Road Stopover Tour — a series of one-off, pop-up festivals with multiple acts, side stages and afterparties, culminating in a suitably majestic concert in the natural wonder of Colorado’s Red Rocks Amphitheatre. For the full experience, score the Deluxe Edition box, which includes the 80-minute video, the live album on vinyl (with download code), an expanded version of their hit sophomore album Babel and a 96-page hardcover book of liner notes, anecdotes and photos. Despite all that, it leaves you wanting more — something else musicians used to do.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

SKIP IT

2Cellos
In2ition


The latest annoying trendlet: Classical musicians covering classic rock. The latest bandwagon-jumpers: This Eastern European cello duo, whose Bob Ezrin-produced sophomore album gussies up Elton, AC/DC, Coldplay, Police, Sonny & Cher, Prodigy, Muse and even Rihanna. Coming next: Yo-Yo Ma Does Bieber.

RATING: 2 (out of 5)

The Saturdays
Chasing the Saturdays


Meet the U.K.’s newest unwanted entertainment export. After four albums in their homeland, these Spice Girls wannabes aim to conquer North America with their generic dance-pop drivel. And as long as they keep their skirts short enough and their lyrics salacious enough, they probably will. Cruel, Britannia.

RATING: 1 (out of 5)

ALBUMS

Ron Sexsmith
Forever Endeavour


The forever: Eternally hangdog tunesmith Sexsmith’s melancholy melodies, nostalgic laments and wounded croon. The endeavour: Old pal Mitchell Froom’s bittersweet chamber orchestrations and warm, organic production. The outcome: Timeless beauty.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Coheed & Cambria
The Afterman: Descension


What goes up, etc. Singer-guitarist Claudio Sanchez and co. conclude another chapter in their ongoing Armory Wars saga, probing death and the afterlife with another sci-fi story and more of their complex adventures in Rush-style prog and synth-rock. No surprise.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Eels
Wonderful, Glorious


“Are you listening? I didn’t think so,” Mark Oliver Everett surmises seconds into his 10th disc. He’s wrong; between his dark fuzz-twang licks and strep-throat cynicism, the Beckish E’s glitchy funk-rock and alt-ballads have never been more compelling. Listen up.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Jim James
Regions of Light & Sound of God


A new day has dawned for My Morning Jacket’s Jim James. The singer-songwriter takes the plunge into solo waters with his debut full-length — and while it’s more keyboard-heavy and nakedly personal than his band work, it still fits him to a T. A slice of heaven.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Richard Thompson
Electric


Yes it is. But not totally. The British folk-rocker’s latest is an energized affair driven by a power trio and Buddy Miller’s down-home production. But Thompson also applies his dusky pipes and needlepoint guitar to acoustic ballads to keep Fairport fans satisfied.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Eric Burdon
’Til Your River Runs Dry


The drought is over. The 71-year-old Animal finally returns with his first full-length in seven years — a loose concept album about mortality. But thanks to his agelessly gruff pipes and a slate of vibrant blues and jazz, it’s his liveliest disc in ages. Death becomes him.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Andrea Bocelli
Passione


Once was not enough. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the romantic Italian tenor reunites with Amore producer David Foster to seduce cougars with supple Latin-tinged grooves and sweeping ballads. His dates this time: J.Lo, Nelly Furtado — and your mom.

RATING: 2.5 (out of 5)

Biffy Clyro
Opposites


Sometimes, too much is never enough. These Scots make that clear on their mammoth sixth release, swinging for the fences — and hitting it out of the park — with a double-length, double-strength concept album of angular stadium-prog anthems. Monumental.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Joan Armatrading
Starlight


Call it Love and All That Jazz. The veteran British singer-songwriter is obsessed with the former and playing the latter this time — and handling every musical instrument while she’s at it. The intimate affair came out last year in the U.K., but it’s worth playing catch-up.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

MORE ALBUMS

The Bronx
The Bronx IV


No, it’s not a Zep reference. Titles just don’t matter to these L.A. punks. As usual, they channel their energy into guttersnipe anthems whose sawtooth guitars, muscular beats and caustic yowl are offset by remarkably potent melodies. They’ve got your number.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

The SteelDrivers
Hammer Down


There’s good. And there’s great. The Nashville bluegrassers’ third disc is all good, what with its lickety-split banjo sprints and black-humoured ditties about shallow graves. Ultimately, though, it lacks the inspiration to stand out from the pack. Bluegrass 101.

RATING: 2.5 (out of 5)

Hatebreed
The Divinity of Purpose


“All pit and no s--t.” That’s how frontman Jamey Jasta describes Hatebreed’s seventh release. He’s right. The metalcore vets come out swinging — and then spend 37 minutes battering you with relentless intensity and homicidal bellowing. Not for the sensitive.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Chris Stamey
Lovesick Blues


Talk about making up for lost time. After releasing the first dB’s disc in 20 years last June, singer-guitarist Stamey unleashes his first solo set since 2005. And it’s a gorgeous batch of gently lush late-night ballads and tasteful indie-pop. Keep ’em coming.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

SINGLES

The Strokes
One Way Trigger

Strange but true. The Strokes’ first new song since 2011’s Angels finds the Manhattan hipsters upping the BPMs and mixing their choppy guitar chime with plenty of bleep-bloop synths — while singer Julian Casablancas breaks out his (oh dear) falsetto. Is this it?

RATING: 2.5 (out of 5)

Flaming Lips
Sun Blows Up Today


They’re back. Not that they left. After covering Floyd, cutting 24-hour songs and collaborating with anyone, the Lips are finally writing new originals — like this zippy nugget of pop-rock from their April disc The Terror. So sugary it should be a breakfast cereal.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Sheryl Crow
Easy


Crow has gone country. At least for the moment. The singer-songwriter’s latest tune is a laid-back slice of pedal steel-sweetened California twang-pop — and word is there’s more where that came from. Guess she still believes a change will do her good.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

DVDs

Stray Cats
Live at Montreux 1981

Runaway boys indeed. Singer-guitarist Brian Setzer and his rockabilly revivalists are baby-faced newcomers in this vintage Montreux show — but they prove their worth by rockin’ this town with a sweaty blast of old-school hillbilly boogie. Go cats, go.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

John Lee Hooker
Cook With the Hook: Live in 1974


One from the scrap heap. Literally. This grainy black-and-white video captures the blues legend and his band playing a festival in a dump. To his credit, the pimp-threaded Hooker still generates plenty of heat with his 45-minute set. A buried treasure.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

IN THE PIPELINE

FEB. 12

Devon Allman
Turquoise

Bullet for My Valentine
Temper Temper

Matt Dusk
My Funny Valentine: The Chet Baker Songbook

Foals
Holy Fire

LL Cool J
Authentic Hip-Hop

Magneta Lane
Witchrock

FEB. 19

Atlas Genius
When it Was Now

Buckcherry
Confessions

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Push the Sky Away

Jamie Lidell
Jamie Lidell

Puscifer
Donkey Punch the Night

Various Artists
Son of Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys
 


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