Mudhoney tops the week's reviews

Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

HEAR IT

Mudhoney
Vanishing Point


You can’t count on much in this life. Thankfully, reluctant grunge icons Mudhoney never disappoint. The Seattle stalwarts tap into the raw power of The Stooges’ funhouse once again on their ninth full-length in 25 years, gleefully bashing, thrashing and trashing the dump while Mark Arm sardonically sneers at parading D-bags, annoying ex-buds and chardonnay. Piece of cake.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Lil Wayne
I Am Not a Human Being II


Tunechi is one sick puppy. That has nothing to do with his recent hospital stay, and everything to do with the outrageously lewd rhymes, woozy gait and cough-syrup trippiness that dominate his 10th disc. Depending on your POV, it’s demented genius or disgusting garbage. Either way, it proves Wayne is not a man who’s mellowing with age.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

SKIP IT

Blake Shelton
Based on a True Story …


Personality goes a long way. And Shelton has plenty of it. Not that you could tell from the Voice judge’s hackneyed eighth album. True Story consists of little besides country cliches about small-town life, Saturday nights and pickup trucks with red taillights — all strung together by hired-gun songwriters and set to generic country-rock, twangy honky-tonk and syrupy ballads.

RATING: 2.5 (out of 5)

Swollen Members
Beautiful Death Machine


Neither beautiful nor particularly deadly — but definitely a machine. The Canadian rap crew’s latest is another predictable affair lazily constructed from a list of generic parts: Sluggish beats, ominous keyboards, B-movie samples and the swaggering rapid-fire wordplay of Prevail and Mad Child. More tales full of sound and fury that ultimately signify nothing.

RATING: 2.5 (out of 5)

ALBUMS

Jack White
Live at Third Man Records


It was the first blast of White’s Blunderbuss. The singer-guitarist unveiled his solo album — and duelling boy-girl bands — at this small private concert in his Nashville complex in March 2012. The raw, raucous 73-minute set includes White Stripes, Raconteurs and Dead Weather fare.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Stephen Stills
Carry On


Deja vu all over again. CSN’s box-set triptych is finally complete with this four-disc anthology from singer-guitarist Stills. Its 82 cuts include hits, highlights and 25 rarities, from a teenage home recording to a funky Hendrix jam to recent live fare. A 113-page book tells the story.

RATING: 4.5 (out of 5)

Anthrax
Anthems


Anthrax’s love affair with cover tunes goes back a long way. On this EP, it goes back to the ’70s, as the speed demons painstakingly Xerox everyone from Rush and AC/DC and Thin Lizzy to Boston and Journey. Singer Joey Belladonna earns the MVP award for his expert mimicry.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

The Besnard Lakes
Until in Excess, Imperceptible UFO


Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space. On their fourth disc, Montreal’s psychedelic post-prog shoegazers create a vast, breathtaking cosmos of supernova guitars, shimmering synths and alien-dream vocals — all drifting with the majesty of orbiting planets. One giant leap.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Bring Me the Horizon
Sempiternal


Eternally unchanged? Not by a long shot. In contrast to its title, the Sheffield crew’s fourth release sees them continuing to evolve, leavening their firebreathing metalcore anthems with lusher textures and electronics, thanks to a new keyboardist/programmer. Change for the better.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Little Green Cars
Absolute Zero


This week in good bands with bad names: Little Green Cars. Widely touted as Ireland’s Next Big Thing, these alt-folksters pack their debut with the harmonious strum ’n’ thump of Mumford — then add enough Arcade Fire rock to keep from being stuck in the acoustic tent.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Killswitch Engage
Disarm the Descent


Reunited and it feels so … so-so. Frontman Jesse Leach brings back his sulphurous pipes after a decade — but the metalcore vets’ sixth disc is plagued by too many soundalike cuts that fuse riff-fest verses to cleanly soaring choruses. A case of diminishing returns.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Grapes of Wrath
High Road


Some things are better the second time around. The B.C. quartet’s first disc in 22 years is the rare comeback that may improve upon the original, resurrecting their ’70s-style folk-pop jangle and psychedelic haze with renewed energy and optimism. Drink it in.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Various Artists
The Music is You: A Tribute to John Denver

Four-eyed folk hippie Denver was never cool. But that may change, thanks to this batch of reverent covers and radical revamps of hits and obscurities by everyone from Train and Lucinda to MMJ and even J Mascis. Thankfully, there’s no Thank God I’m a Country Boy.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Rilo Kiley
RKives


Nope, they aren’t back together. Instead, Jenny Lewis and the rest of these late, lamented L.A. country-popster hipsters raided their archives (RKives, get it?) to assemble this half-decent comp of B-sides and rarities — including nine previously unreleased numbers. Deal with it.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Cold War Kids
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts


Dear Kids: You wisely took everyone’s advice and returned to your tumbledown, piano-driven soul-punk after the overproduced modern-rock of 2011’s Mine is Yours. But flirting with electro-pop and dance grooves? That just proves you still have commitment issues.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Waxahatchee
Cerulean Salt


Waxahachie is a city in Texas. Waxahatchee is Katie Crutchfield. One is a Dallas suburb. The other is an Alabama singer whose stark sophomore disc juggles lo-fi indie-rock and damaged-goods ballads a la early Cat Power or Liz Phair. Glad we cleared that up.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Roger Knox & Pine Valley Cosmonauts
Stranger in My Land


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: An aboriginal Australian country legend known as the Black Elvis returns to cover Antipodean roots classics with the aid of alt-country all-stars like Jon Langford, Dave Alvin and Canada’s own Sadies. Illuminating and entertaining.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

COLUMN

Whatever Chris Martin says today, take it with a grain of salt.
The Coldplay frontman and his bandmates seem to have a thing for April Fools’ Day pranks. In 2009, they announced plans to record their next album in zero gravity on a specially designed jet. The next year, they said they were launching a fragrance called (what else?) Angst.
They’re not the only musicians who might pull your leg this year. A few years back, Justin Bieber claimed he had bought the website Funny or Die and renamed it Bieber or Die. “Remember,” he said in a video, “this is Bieber’s world. You’re just living in it.” Sadly, that last part turned out to be true.
Some other recent musical pranksters:
• Björk claimed she was replacing Robert Plant in Led Zeppelin — but would only sing songs from their first and fourth albums.
• Joe Jonas tweeted he was going to join NASA and go to space camp.
• John Mayer revealed he was starting a gold prospecting company called Golden Retrievers.
• Kid Rock said he had bought the naming rights to the Detroit Tigers’ Comerica Park, and was brewing an official Tigers beer.
• Hanson announced they were cutting a disc of Slipknot covers, and released a video of them rehearsing Wait and Bleed.
• Trent Reznor claimed he had made an album with Timbaland called Strobe Light, with cameos by Bono, Alicia Keys, Sheryl Crow and (who else?) Chris Martin. Guy’s insatiable, I tell you.

SINGLES

Snoop Lion
No Guns Allowed feat. Drake & Cori B


He wasn’t kidding. The artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg continues his Rastafari reincarnation with the second single from his upcoming reggae album. This one is a gently bouncing, slow-burning plea for peace, featuring vocals from Drizzy and Snoop’s daughter.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Brittany Howard & Ruby Amanfu
I Wonder


The former is the mighty frontwoman of Alabama Shakes. The latter is best known for her recent stint as Jack White’s duet partner on Love Interruption. Here, the two ladies team up on a loose, rambling cover of a tune by Rodriguez. Can’t get more pedigreed than that.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

RDGLDGRN
I Love Lamp


That’s Red Gold Green — the pseudonyms and colour scheme of this Washington indie-pop trio. Fittingly, their infectious breakthrough number is equally vibrant, thanks to some chiming guitars, a hooky chorus and thumping drums from some guy named Dave Grohl.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

DVDs

The Rolling Stones
Under Review: 1975-1983 — The Ronnie Wood Years (Part 1)


The defection of Mick Taylor. The arrival of Ron Wood. Keith’s heroin bust. Some Girls. Start Me Up. The late ’70s and early ’80s were a tumultuous time for the Stones, and this exhaustive two-hour doc — part of an ongoing series — puts it all in perspective. Only rock ’n’ roll but etc.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

IN THE PIPELINE

APRIL 9

Avett Brothers
Live, Volume 3

James Blake
Overgrown

Dawes
Stories Don't End

Device
Device

Keaton Henson
Birthdays

The Knife
Shaking the Habitual

Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
English Electric

Brad Paisley
Wheelhouse

Paramore
Paramore

LeAnn Rimes
Spitfire

Molly Ringwald   
Except Sometimes

Todd Rundgren   
State

Stone Sour
House of Gold & Bones Pt. 2

Kurt Vile
Wakin On a Pretty Daze

Volbeat
Outlaw Gentlemen & Shady Ladies


 


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