Sinead O'Connor, The Arkells and Spoon top this week's new music

Sinead O'Connor (WENN.COM file photo)

Sinead O'Connor (WENN.COM file photo)

Darryl Sterdan, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:36 PM ET

ALBUMS OF THE WEEK

Sinead O'Connor
I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss


Uh-oh; now what? It’s a fair question, given this disc’s cover pic — a provocative shot of guess who, clad in a skin-tight black PVC dress and Bettie-banged wig, hugging an electric guitar and making eyes like some indie-rock pinup. But fear not; Sinead O’Connor hasn’t gone over to the dark side and joined Miley Cyrus. The mercurial media manipulatrix is just having her cheesecake and eating it too, satirizing contemporary rock-chick sexuality while simultaneously benefitting from the attendant publicity (and showing off the results of her recent weight loss). So far, it all seems to be working just fine — her superior 10th disc is getting the attention its recent predecessors failed to generate. It’s well deserved; as usual, O’Connor arrives armed with her swooping otherworldly pipes, frankly confessional lyrics about her personal and professional travails, and a musical palette that casually but confidently blends dreamy pop, strummy folk, crunchy rock, groovy reggae, funky Afrobeat, smouldering soul balladry and more. Looks like someone’s dressed for success.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)



The Arkells, High Noon/Spoon, They Want My Soul

Now and then, good things come in twos. This time, it was the coincidental arrival of new albums from Hamilton’s Arkells and Austin’s Spoon. Most weeks, one good disc of guitar-driven pop-rock is cause for celebration. But a pair? It’s practically an embarrassment of riches — in the form of well-written and intelligent lyrics, songcraft that blends fresh with familiar, and stylish production that colours their tracks without unnecessary fussiness. Not to mention that both bands favour bouncy beats, have a way with a slashing guitar line, and capably expand their musical horizons with everything from synth-pop to string sections. Which is not to suggest that they’re interchangeable. As befitting their hometown, Texan Britt Daniel and Spoon are the swaggering urban hipsters in the room, perpetually and perfectly poised and playing it oh-so-cool with their low-slung grooves, restrained pop and Daniel’s slightly snotty Greg Godovitz rasp. Max Kernan and his Arkells, again fittingly, are positioned as scrappy blue-collar upstarts, colouring Kernan’s earnest yelp and their eager-beaver bashing with the punky Celtic clang of Ted Leo, plenty of heartland-rock grandeur and even some ’80s beatbox pop borrowed from Don Henley’s Boys of Summer. Whichever one you pick, you won’t be disappointed. But why choose when you can have the best of both worlds?

BOTH: 4 (out of 5)


 


Jim Lauderdale
I’m a Song


If Lauderdale were a song, he’d be a country song. But not just any song. Based on the veteran’s magnificent double album, he’d be a side of classic Nashville and Bakersfield fare. Sometimes he’d kick up his heels. Other times he’d be a honky-tonk ballad. He’d be cowritten by Bobby Bare, Elvis Costello or Robert Hunter, and sung with Buddy Miller, Lee Ann Womack or Patty Loveless. He’d be dusted with everything from rock and blues to jazz, topped with a warm hickory drawl and heartfelt lyrics. But he would invariably be a flawless little gem, infused with the tinkly pianos, shimmery steel guitars, mournful fiddles and timeless twang of classic country. He’d be a song you play on a jukebox in a roadhouse. The kind you play over and over. The kind you should be listening to right now.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

Theory of a Deadman
Savages


Far more civilized than you’d expect. Especially from these lunkheads. But after more than a decade of churning out offensive drivel for angry losers with tiny penises, singer-guitarist Tyler Connolly has apparently taken stock, found himself wanting — and tried to stop being such a d-bag. So the fifth album from his TOAD repudiates their usual misogyny and macho posturing with wry self-deprecation and genuine emotion, while expanding their grinding post-grunge anthems with everything from hip-pop and hick-hop to post-industrial electronics and modern-rock overproduction. Granted, he’s essentially traded one set of cliches for several others — all without managing to inject much originality into the affair — but hey, at least he’s trying.

RATING: 2.5 (out of 5)

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Nico Vega
Lead to Light


Sometimes you have to pick sides. Unless you’re an L.A. buzz band, apparently. On their sophomore disc, this female-fronted trio can’t decide between getting scuzzy and rocking out, hitting the floor with punchy grooves and slickly produced dance-rock fare or shooting for the rafters with arena-sized synth-rock. So they try to please everyone — and end up with an album that may satisfy no one.

RATING: 2.5 (out of 5)

Gloryhound
Loaded Gun


Their aim is true. True to the timeless sound and spirit of guitar-driven pop-rock, that is. As befits the title of their sophomore disc, these Maritimers boast an arsenal of clanging riffs and ringing chords, punchy beats and pumping basslines, big hooks and bigger choruses — plus the technical support of GGGarth and Bob Ezrin. And they hit the target enough to make you surrender.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Old Crow Medicine Show
Remedy


Sick of the party-hearty pop piffle that passes for country these days? These itinerant minstrels have the cure: Their eighth potent concoction of raucous acoustic Americana about death, dogs, Doc Watson and conjugal prison visits — all infused with close harmonies, mournful slide guitars and plucky banjos (not to mention a dash of Dylan), and delivered with the lickety-split grit of streetcorner buskers. Step right up and have a shot, but remember: It kicks like a mule.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Fozzy
Do You Want to Start a War


Unsurprisingly, I do not want to start a war with beefy brawler Chris Jericho. But after suffering through his sixth turgid turd of modern-rock cliches and arena-metal crud-blort, I would prefer he stick to what he’s qualified for — rolling around in a ring, pawing sweaty men in bathing suits — and leave music to those with discernible talent and ability. Bombs away.

RATING: 1 (out of 5)

Godsmack
1000hp


A retro hot-rod revving its engine, spewing flames, blowing smoke, making a lot of noise — but ultimately spinning its wheels and going nowhere. That’s what you’ll see on the front of these Bostonians’ sixth studio set. And that’s what you’ll hear in these chunky slabs of predictable (albeit perfectly serviceable) post-grunge rock and alt-metal. Time to shift gears, brah.

RATING: 2.5 (out of 5)

Kobra & The Lotus
High Priestess


Bow down, headbangers. Your new metal queen has been crowned. Calgary’s Kobra (nee Brittany) Paige handily earns her title with the unholy might, undeniable majesty and unimpeachable vibrato of her classically trained pipes, which can soar from a deeply muscular croon to a spectacular shriek faster than you can say Rob Halford. Her bandmates are no slouches either, deftly welding the power and propulsion of various metal sub-genres into an impressive amalgam of epic thrash and grand bombast. Long may she reign.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

The Interrupters
The Interrupters


Ska-punk’s not dead! Not if these female-fronted Angelenos get their way. And they oughta. Their explosive debut — produced and released by Rancid’s Tim Armstrong — faithfully fuses the herky-jerk gait and keyboard-heavy sound of British 2 Tone with the gritty guitars and punchy propulsion of punk, then tops it with Aimee Allen’s muscular mushmouthed vocals. Get ready for the fourth wave.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

John Adams
City Noir


It’s the stuff that dreams are made of — Hollywood dreams about hardboiled detectives, femmes fatale and nefarious villains. Composer Adams pays tribute to the L.A. of Chandler, Hammett, Cain and others with this tensely dramatic, propulsive score in search of a film. Even better: The album debuts the fluidly boppish Saxophone Concerto, played by Timothy McAllister.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

James Brown
Get On Up


Papa’s got a brand new biopic — and a compilation of 20 soul, funk and R&B classics to go with. It isn’t the hardest-working anthology in show business, but if you got this, you’ll feel good.

RATING: 4 (out of 5)

NOW SEE HEAR: MUSIC ON DVD


Sex Pistols
On TV: The TV Interviews Uncensored


All the fury — but little of the filth, sadly. Despite its title, this two-hour compilation of Pistols TV fare has more bleeps than a Stereolab box set. But even if you won’t hear the punk pioneers in all their unexpurgated glory, you will get more than three decades of archival footage — early docs, news pieces on their U.S. tour and breakup, press-conference footage from their reunions, and segments on PiL, Sid and Nancy, Malcolm McLaren, and more. So you won’t feel swindled. Though you might get the feeling someone doesn’t know the definition of uncensored.

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

Grant Hart
Every Everything: The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart


To borrow a different Hüsker Dü title: Everything falls apart. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t worth making. That’s the takeaway from documentarian Gorman Bechard’s portrait of punk survivor Hart. At times literally sitting amid the salvaged rubble of his life, the complicated singer-songwriter fondly and frankly ruminates and reflects on past and present — HD’s meteoric rise and fall, drugs, homosexuality, fatherhood, a recent house fire, his latest album — with the dignity and wisdom that only come with age and perspective. Few secrets are revealed — but enough hard truths are shared to make this compelling nonetheless.

RATING: 3.5 (out of 5)

Devo
The Men Who Make the Music Plus Butch Devo & The Sundance Gig


We must repeat? OK, let’s go. Devotees can get a double dose of nostalgia — and enjoy their freedom of choice — with this decade spanning DVD two-fer. First up: The Spudboys’ much-bootlegged 1979 video LP Men Who Make the Music, with 50 minutes of vintage live weirdness and video clips from their game-changing early albums, plus a hefty dose of anti-music business satire. Next: Their hit-packed hour-long reunion gig from the 1996 Sundance Film Festival, augmented with a half-hour of rehearsal footage. Are they not generous?

RATING: 3 (out of 5)

IN THE PIPELINE

Aug. 19


Accept
Blind Rage
Bahamas
Bahamas Is Afie
Elvin Bishop
Can’t Even Do Wrong Right
Bishop Allen
Lights Out
Benjamin Booker
Benjamin Booker
Dr. John
Ske-Dat-De-Dat … The Spirit of Satch
Electric Würms
Musik, Die Shwer Zu Twerk
Orenda Fink
Blue Dream
Ruthie Foster
Promise of a Brand New Day
Roddy Frame
Seven Dials
Ace Frehley
Space Invader
Bebel Gilberto
Tudo!
Imogen Heap
Sparks
Jennifer Hudson
JHUD
Wiz Khalifa
Blacc Hollywood
Kimbra
The Golden Echo
Smokey Robinson
Smokey & Friends
Randy Travis
Influence Vol. 2: The Man I Am
Midge Ure
Fragile
Various Artists
Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited


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